Drugging My Cat

Wiley lounging on my Dyna.
Wiley lounging on my Dyna.

Imperial Star Wiley Raz-Ma-Taz, our flame-point Siamese, was born April 21, 2007. I think he’s had a pretty good life so far but, poor guy, he’s been having some trouble coping lately. Maybe he’s been watching the news too much… Whatever, we set out to help him.

I won’t bore you with the details. But over the course of a month or so working with a local veterinarian we settled on a successful drug regimen. The miracle drug? Fluoxetine, better known as Prozac. Yeah, this is an off-label use of the drug. I’ve since learned that it’s more common than one might think.

Wiley’s always been an easy cat to pill. Maybe it’s a trust thing. Sometimes he appears to look forward to his next dose, perhaps he somehow knows that it brings comfort.

Unfortunately his dosage requires that the 10 milligram tablet be quartered. That breaches the coating and that means it tastes awful! It’s bitter (self-tested) as all get-out. Mixed with saliva from an angry cat it foams and dribbles and… well, you get the idea.

Never underestimate the fury of an unhappy feline – especially when you’re working near its mouth!

Medication time quickly turned into a nightmare to which none of us looked forward. Even though the drugs helped Wiley this was putting a serious hurt on our relationship!

Pam found a place in China to buy unfilled gel-caps online and ordered some.

Size-5 gel-caps, sourced from China.
A thousand size-5 gel-caps, sourced from China. They were cheap, too. The estimated ship estimate spanned the better part of a month, which was a little scary, but they actually showed up in a week or so. You can click this or any other image in this article for a larger view which will appear in a new window or tab.

The quartered tablet fragments fit pretty well into the gel-caps. Life started to improve. Still, the quartering process troubled me. No matter how careful, no matter how sharp the razor blade, the size of the quarters varied and sometimes even became damaged beyond being useful.

Imprecise dosage and waste: there were still two problems to solve!

Back to Amazon… And in a couple of  days I had what I needed:

  • mortar & pestle  [ link ]
  • spatula  [ link ]
  • milligram scale  [ link ]

I had a few tablets on hand because I had just stocked up so I began by weighing each of them. There was a slight variation – just a couple of milligrams. I averaged the weights and divided the result by four – my quarter-tablet goal. Then I went to work.

Ready for crushing.
Two 10 milligram tablets are ready for crushing. 10 mg is, of course, the amount of the drug and not the weight of the tablets!

 

Tablets crushed to a powder.
In a few seconds I’d reduced the tablets to powder. If you look closely you can still see some flecks of the tablet coating. It’s kind of like the candy coating a plain M&M, but much thinner, very hard and brittle.

 

The weighing.
I’ve used the spatula to transfer 53 milligrams of pulverized tablet to a small square of waxed paper sitting in the weigh pan. They make anti-static squares for this purpose but I guessed that the Florida humidity would keep static under control. I guessed right. I creased the waxed paper to make filling the gel-cap easier. Needless to say, the scale is zeroed with the waxed paper in the weigh pan before adding product.

 

The setup and work product.
Here’s the setup and the finished work product. The hardest part is dumping the weighed powder into the size-5 gel-caps; it takes a steady hand and a good eye, but it gets easier with practice. Notice, there’s very little residue on either the waxed paper or the spatula, indicating that my static is under control.

The final result? Worth every nickel of cost and every moment of work!

That the evil, bitter taste is now gone is a clear win. And I’m convinced that consistent, accurate dosing is exactly what Wiley needs. He’s back to his old self! Our relationship is back on track, too.

 

Lit Up!

The other day I learned something about Florida traffic law. The fine for “obscuring your license plate” is eleven hundred and fifty bucks!

The short story goes something like this. My barhopper’s plate holder’s pivoted. It can fold flat against the bike, out of the way. I’d been working in the battery box the day before and had the thing pivoted backward. I’ve scraped my calf a couple of times on the damned thing. Before hittin’ the street I completed the usual first-ride-of-the-day checks as the engine warmed – lighting, control operation, etc. – like I always do. But the plate’s position just didn’t register.

I guess I made it about fifteen miles or so before I got lit up.

Considering the LEO commented “I could have sworn there was no tag at all” when I explained, the stop went well. I wasn’t ticketed and I learned something. Turns out the fine is steep from folks running tolls, covering their plates to avoid the cameras.

Tension eased, I took the opportunity to ask after something mentioned to me a while back, that vertically-oriented plates were illegal here. They’re not illegal, and the other LEO (yeah, by then another patrol car had joined us) concurred. I may remount the plate for a cleaner look – and to avoid another mishap.

In a few minutes I was back on the road. As I donned my lid one smiled and said “Try to stay under a hundred, okay?” “And keep the front wheel on the ground,” the other added.

“I’ll try.”

Aqua•Comb

filter-media
Typical cartridge filter.

Owning a swimming pool is practically a requirement in Florida. Our pool, like many, uses a replaceable cartridge-type filter. The filtration system is simple, works well, and it’s easy to keep up. The trade-off for that convenience is the cost of the filter media.

In case you’re not familiar with these things I’ve included an image of a typical filter cartridge. It’s remarkably similar to an aquarium filter, but larger. Mine is about 2 feet tall and maybe around 10 or 11 inches in diameter. It’s basically a perforated plastic tube wrapped with a deeply pleated fiber media, with some support rings at either end. Situated vertically, water flows from the outside in, through the perforated tube, exiting through the bottom of the perforated tube. Any debris not caught by the skimmer basket and pump screen becomes trapped within the pleats.

A top-quality, name-brand filter cartridge costs around a hundred bucks.

My contractor suggested that frequent cleaning would extend the life of the media. It made sense. Cleaning is theoretically simple: direct a spray from a garden hose at the outside; work your way around the unit, letting gravity carry away any debris. In practice, the pleats make this a time-consuming task. And after a while, crouching on the ground with a spraying hose in one hand and stabilizing/positioning the cartridge with the other hand makes every minute feel like an hour.

I quickly learned that having spare cartridge on hand is a good idea. Swapping cartridges handling the rest of the maintenance to bring the filter system back online only takes several minutes, leaving one free to concentrate on the cartridge.

Filter Flosser
Filter Flosser. Quality made from aluminum, but not very effective. Click the image for an enlarged view and you’ll see why.

Over the years I’ve tried several tools and tricks. I first rigged a stand from PVC tubing to orient and support the cartridge at a comfortable height and angle. (It doubles as a towel rack poolside. Or maybe the towel rack doubles as the work stand?) Water everywhere! Cleaning was much more effective because it freed a hand to spread the pleats. But there sure are a lot of pleats and by the end of the job my fingers were raw! The media, it turns out, is kind of abrasive. I tried a tool called the Filter Flosser (inset), designed to concentrate a water blast between the pleats . That’s a pricey tool that’s not very effective. I even tried letting the media dry out, cleaning it with a jet of air from my shop compressor. That beat my fingers up even worse, took about as long as the garden hose and wasn’t as effective.

Enter the Aqua•Comb!

aquacomb

This awesome little unit caught my eye at the local Pinch-A-Penny, where I pick up chemicals and what have you. The guy behind the counter (who happens to own the store) told me that he bought one for himself and it works great.

I thought the price was somewhat high for plastic. But it really does work, saves a ton of time, uses less water, and makes way less mess. Okay, the tag says “…as little as 5 minutes” so it could be more – and it is. But still, nowhere near the time it took by hand. The bottom line? Worth it!

Why? The comb teeth, for one. They get between the pleats, way down deep, and they save your fingers. The water jets are fewer and, thus, more powerful. It’s easy to direct the jets down for optimal water flow as the comb teeth provide access between the pleats. For complete coverage you do need to follow the instructions, but overall it’s so fast that what reads like repeat work really isn’t.

This tool – along with its derivative products – is going to make the inventor a well-deserved bundle of cash! What’s more, it’s an American company, making products from USA sourced material with American labor. Which is more than Harley-Davidson can say.

Here’s their website, go see for yourself. If you have a pool or spa using cartridge filters – or a horse or dog (use your imagination!) – and you do your own labor then you probably need this product.

Thor is Dead – Well, Maybe Not

Way back in 2008 Pam​ was outgrowing her computer, a P4-based HP laptop. Yeah, right. Remember those ‘desktop replacement’ laptops? Lots of power (well, for its day) but it must’ve weighed ten pounds. With a power brick that was about the size of a real brick. Yeah, you remember.

So I built her a desktop. Kick-ass (well, for its day) dual core Intel processor, three huge hard drives, gobs of memory, rockin’ graphics card to drive the bleedin’ edge HP monitor she saw at a Digital Life show… She named it Thor, and it was good.

Over the years Thor got his share of tweaks and minor upgrades. New drives here, more and faster memory there, but substantially the same old box. Fast-forward to today.

hqdefaultThor’s been feelin’ the weight of the ages, actin’ flakey, a little unstable.

The guy in the brown truck brought some stuff yesterday afternoon. Motherboard, CPU, memory, power supply rated for the Intel Haswell chips… Almost a quarter of the cost was covered by rebates and other incentives. Free shipping. No sales tax.

Pam named it Kermit.

Kermit’s just burning in now. In a couple of weeks I’ll start messing around. Clocks, timings, and so on, tuning for performance. But for now, so far, so good.

So where’s my geek hat… Windows 10 activation/licensing was an issue, for a while. I was a little worried going in. Thor was on Windows 7, caught the free upgrade to Windows 10 back in July. No Key. What was gonna happen when the box booted? Kermit booted to a non-activated state and subsequent boots loading drivers and such remained non-activated. But after loading chipset drivers – the motherboard was WAY different – Windows 10 came up fully activated once again. Symantec activation and licensing was another hurdle. (Disclosure: We run their security product on our Windows desktops here, I recommend ’em and buy OEM licenses in bulk.) What happened was the existing license pretty much evaporated and jumped to an unused license in my pool of unused seats. I had a conversation with the folks at Symantec (online chat with ‘Ace’, actually – ‘Ace’ probably has too many consonants in his real name) and put the licensing right. No other gotchas so far.

So, what of Thor? Probably… clean him up a little, pull a chassis out of the back, stuff in some drives, install a Linux server image, and put him to work. No rest for the weary here; earn yer fuckin’ keep!

Dodge Dart

When I was in my twenties I went through one of my car-less periods, only a motorcycle for basic transport. Rain or shine, winter or summer, I rode. Jerry, a guy I knew, felt bad for me one wintry day. He gave me a car.

I don't recall the year, but it may have looked something like this. Certainly not as clean.
I don’t recall the year, but it may have looked something like this. Certainly not as clean.

It was an old Dodge Dart. I don’t recall the year. If you’re anywhere near my age you’ve probably seen thousands upon thousands of these old Dodge Darts on the road. They were bulletproof: slant-six engine; three-speed on the column; torsion-bar suspension; bench seats complete with the saggy back rest. This one was blue. The interior was all musty from sitting in Jerry’s mom’s backyard for months and months. (She may have pressured him to get it out of there, helping lead to my good fortune.)

I remember when Jerry bought the Dodge. He wasn’t much of a mechanic and he had asked for my help with its assessment. “The clutch is slipping some,  you’ll need to replace it eventually. But otherwise it’s reasonable.” I think he paid a couple hundred for it.

When I got my hands on that old Dodge the clutch was still slipping some. The engine had two operating temperatures: hotter than hell, and hotter than hotter than hell. Coolant boiled out regularly; the water jugs in the backseat were a permanent fixture. But that ol’ engine never faltered, not once. In fact, it always delivered excellent heat. And judging by the sludge in the crankcase I don’t think Jerry ever got around to changing the oil in the couple of years he had it. I know I didn’t.

I used to have fun with that slippery clutch! I knew a new friction plate would be cheap and easy to install. It became something of a game to see how much abuse the poor little clutch could take. I’d wind that little engine for all it was worth and sidestep the pedal just to catch a whiff of the burning plate.

I was using that very technique to enter the highway, pulling out of a local titty bar one afternoon, when the clutch signalled it had finally had just about enough. The sound was odd and clunky – not good at all. A bit of friction remained, though, and the car lurched ahead. I didn’t dare touch the pedal during the short ride home.

The decision had been a sound one. The very next pedal depression was its last. Oh, the pedal would move alright, but it no longer mattered. Engine on or off, pedal or not, any gear could be selected at will while the car no longer moved on its own.

So the next weekend I picked up a friction plate, release bearing, and other assorted parts and set to work. The drivetrain and transmission came out easy enough. But what remained of that poor clutch was a sight to behold. Some dust and shredded friction material along with some broken metal fell out of the housing to the asphalt. It was one of those moments that fairly begged for a digital camera. But this was WAY before that technology became ubiquitous. In short order the new clutch was again transferring engine power to the transmission!

I was working in Bridgeport, Connecticut at the time and Monday morning I set out from my New Jersey home with confidence. With a week’s worth of clothing (and several water jugs) in the backseat, all was well with the world and the ride up Route 95 went without incident. But as I reached the job site there was a mighty clunk from the front end as the left front quarter sagged nearly to the ground. A quick look confirmed my suspicion: the torsion bar had broken free, its mount in the frame rusted out.

At the end of the day, before I checked into my hotel, I found a salvage yard and limped the old Dodge to its final resting place.

The yard operator paid me just about enough to cover my clutch parts.

Revisiting Eudora SSL Certificate Failures

updatedIntroduction
Back in January I wrote an article about remedying failed certificate errors in Eudora. The article came about because I had a problem, the solution I puzzled out wasn’t terribly obvious, and I hoped to help others in a similar bind.

The article exceeded my expectations! Go read the comments and you’ll see what I mean. I’ll wait.

I’ve learned a lot, too! There are WAY more Eudora enthusiasts than I had ever imagined. There’s a rather active, reasonably high signal-to-noise ratio mailing list dedicated to Eudora for Windows (eudora-win@hades.listmoms.net) where you’ll find plenty of expertise. There I learned a few other tweaks and adjustments that have made my Eudora experiences even better, despite my many years using it.

Thank you all for your support and for passing my article around! I can’t believe some of the help desks it’s touched.


Criticism
While the solution I discovered was effective, I received criticism that it was more complicated than necessary. There’s no need to go through the steps to import or install a certificate, I was told, and in fact, the import/install steps could actually lead to other problems.

I’ve since learned that this is largely true – although I haven’t heard of any instances where trouble actually resulted from the import/install steps I outlined.

This article presents a shortened solution. It omits the unnecessary steps and borrows a bit from stuff on the mailing list. It includes images of the dialogue panels you can expect to see – because I received a ton of positive feedback on that.


Revised Steps
Once again, I’m using Eudora version 7.1.0.9. I can’t think of a single reason anyone should use an earlier version. I’m also running on Windows 10, which should lay to rest any doubt that Eudora runs just as well there as ever. I think that’ll  stay true until email address internationalization becomes a standard and gains traction.

A quick word about the dialogue panel graphics shown in this article. They’re actual screen shots so the default action button appears slightly different from the other buttons. (This graphic, for example, shows the Close button as the default action.) In the instructions which follow, however, the button(s) that require clicking are not necessarily the default action.

 

It’s most likely that you’ll encounter a certificate rejection when checking email; most of us check email more often than we send. And failures occur with increased frequency lately with Gmail; they seem to change certificates more often than other providers. So let’s assume that’s the case and Eudora has thrown this error panel at us during a check on Gmail:

Server SSL Certificate Rejected
Server SSL Certificate Rejected during a Gmail check.

 

Take note of the Eudora Persona which produced the error, if you can. A clue sometimes be seen in the status area. In our example it’s one of my Gmail accounts.

The status area at the bottom of the screen may tell you which Persona has produced the certificate error.
The status area at the bottom of the screen may provide a clue as to which Persona has produced the certificate error.

 

If you use multiple Persona in Eudora and can’t tell which one experienced the certificate rejection then you’ll need to look at each until you find the correct Persona to adjust. Working with the wrong one will just frustrate you. We’ll come back to this a little later.

For now, Click the Yes button in the Server SSL Certificate Rejected panel. Clicking Yes won’t actually fix the problem but it’ll let Eudora finish the tasks that are running. Allow Eudora’s activities to continue until they complete.

Without closing Eudora, access the Properties of the Persona with the rejected certificate.  In our example, we know the rejection occurred during a mail check so we’ll access the Incoming Mail tab of that Persona. The Properties appear in the Account Settings panel.

The account settings panel for the Persona that rejected the certificate.
The account settings panel for the Persona that rejected the certificate. We’re looking at the Incoming Mail tab because we know the certificate rejection occurred while checking for new email. Had the rejection occurred during a send we’d be looking at the Generic Properties tab instead.

 

Click the Last SSL Info button. The Eudora SSL Connection Information Manager panel appears.

eudoracert04-3
The Last SSL Info button will only show this panel if this Persona has used SSL since Eudora was last launched. The green arrow indicates the Certificate Information Manager button mentioned below. Yes, that large grey bar is a button!

 

Click the Certificate Information Manager button, which I’ve indicated with a green arrow in the graphic above. DO NOT click OK if you are trying to get to the Certificate Information Manager. The Eudora Certificate Information Manager panel appears.

The Certificate Information Manager displays and allows you to manipulate the certificate chain.
The Certificate Information Manager displays and allows you to manipulate the certificate chain.

 

Looking at the top-most section of the Certificate Information Manager panel, the first row under Server Certificates (that’s the topmost row with the smiley face in the image above) contains the rejected certificate. You can’t actually see the problem certificate yet because it’s actually the last (or near the last) in a chain of certificates. Like the layers of an onion, you can’t see inside until you remove a layer. (Some refer to it as a series of locked doors, where you need to unlock one before you can see the next.) In any case, the rejected certificate we seek is inside. Click the plus sign next to the top smiley row to expand the chain, which is like peeling away the first layer of the onion.

Here we've expanded the chain of certificates just once.
Here we’ve expanded the chain of certificates just once. Notice the smiley face icon we saw earlier changes to an open mouth. The expansion has revealed… another certificate with another smiley face – the next link in the certificate chain.

 

Keep expanding the certificate chain by clicking the plus sign of each certificate in turn, peeling away layer after layer of our imaginary onion. Eventually you’ll see a skull and crossbones icon instead of a smiley face.

Here we see the fully expanded certificate chain. The final certificate - the one with the skull and crossbones icon - is the one that was rejected because it was untrusted.
Here we see the fully expanded certificate chain. The final certificate – the one with the skull and crossbones icon – is the one that was rejected because it was untrusted.

 

In this example I needed to expand the chain four times to reach the problem certificate. You may need to expand the chain more times or less times, and that’s perfectly okay.

Remember several steps back I mentioned working with the correct Eudora Persona when chasing a rejected certificate, and that I’d come back to it later? Welcome to later.

Let’s imagine for a second that we took all these steps and expanded the certificate chain all the way to the end – no more plus signs to click – yet didn’t end up with a certificate marked with a skull and crossbones. What then?

Simply, it means that we’re looking in the wrong place! If you’re not seeing the rejected certificate you can’t very well fix it, can you? So if you gotten this far with no skull and crossbones then close the Certificate Information Manager panel and close the Eudora SSL Connection Information Manager panel. Choose another Persona to work with (or the other tab of the Persona if you don’t know whether you were receiving or sending when the error appeared) and try again.

In order to get Eudora to accept the failed certificate you must first find it! And it’s indicated by a skull and crossbones icon. No skull equals no fix. This is sometimes a point of frustration.

But let’s assume that you have found the certificate with the skull and crossbones. Select it by clicking on it, so it looks like this in the Certificate Information Manager:

The rejected, untrusted certificate with the skull and crossbones icon is selected, indicated by appearing highlighted.
The rejected, untrusted certificate with the skull and crossbones icon is selected.

 

Now we’re ready for action!

Click the Add To Trusted button. When you do that the certificate chain we took so much trouble to expand will contract. The Certificate Information Manager panel will look much the same as it did when we first opened it.

The Certificate Information Manager panel just after the Add To Trusted button is clicked.
The Certificate Information Manager panel just after the Add To Trusted button is clicked.

 

All that’s left to do is dismiss all these panels and test.

Click the Done button in the Certificate Information Manager panel to dismiss it. Click the OK button in the The Eudora SSL Connection Information Manager panel to dismiss it. Click the OK button in the Account Settings panel to dismiss it.

Finally, try collecting (or sending) your email again.

Did it work? It did? Great, you’re done. Well, until next time Eudora rejects an untrusted certificate.

Oh, wait, it didn’t work? Don’t panic. Just go back and follow the steps again.

Think back to the certificate chain, the onion layers, the series of locked doors. You need to trust a certificate in the chain before you can see what lies beyond it. The next run though the steps you’ll find that the certificate chain expands one more time before revealing another certificate with the skull and crossbones icon. When you find it, trust it and test again.

As non-intuitive as that may sound, you may need to step through the fix two or more times before achieving success.


Conclusion
If you compare this discussion to my earlier article you’ll see that there are actually WAY fewer steps. Once you’ve gotten through it a few times (and you certainly will if you use Gmail) you’ll see that trusting new certificates only takes a handful of clicks.

Yes, this article seems/is long and ponderous, with several panel images that look nearly the same. That’s because I’m trying to do a better job describing the areas about which I’ve fielded many questions privately.

A tip o’ the hat to Jane who, after working through some frustration, circled back to tell me what she had learned. Jane helped bring clarity to a possibly confusing section of this article. Thanks!

Poison Ivy

I never had poison ivy, never in my life. I could handle the stuff, nothing. “Lucky you,” the doc said when I asked, “you’re just immune.” Until that time back in 2001…

poison-ivyMy dad had two rows hedges he wanted removed. There was plenty of poison ivy in those hedges, which is one of the reasons he wanted ’em out. When he trimmed ’em he’d get some poison ivy for his trouble. I told him I’d handle it.

So one morning I set to work. I crawled under each bush, wrapping the bottom with my trusty tow strap. Attached the loose end to the front of my Jeep and yanked the thing out by the roots. Then on to the next. One after another, about 80+ linear feet all told. Some came out easy, some not so, requiring more wrestling to re-attach the strap and/or dig with a shovel or pickaxe. Then haul it all out to the street by the armload Sweaty, dirty work it was.

The shower felt pretty good.

By nightfall the itching and oozing had set in bigtime. I woke up looking like the Michelin man.

I figured it’d go away pretty quick. After all, I was immune. I figured wrong.

After a couple of days of agony I dropped in on the local doc. He walked into the examining room, took one look, turned and left without a word. Came back with shots and gave me a prescription for 15 days of prednisone (ultra-high dose immediately, then very high and tapering off in five-day increments). Hydroxyzine hydrochloride, too, several times a day for the duration. And finally, some kind of voodoo ointment (Diprolene AF) to help combat the external symptoms.

“But I’ve always been immune! WTF??”

“No more,” he told me, “those days are over for you. You got yourself one severe overdose.”

Over the next couple of weeks my skin slowly dried up as the itching and oozing subsided. And I put on a good fifteen pounds, too, because I ate everything in sight. I was famished-hungry 24/7. Fucking steroids.

And yes, today I’m sensitive to the damned plant. Not as bad as some, but enough that I treat it with respect.

Windows 10 Upgrade – Follow-Up #1

I planned to follow-up the first article after about a week but you know how that goes sometimes…

New oddity with Windows 10. Since it has to do with wi-fi connectivity it could be vitally important for some, so here goes.

Basically, IPv6 works perfectly but IPv4 does not – at least not completely, and at least not for me. In the context of the web, it means that any site that’s IPv4-only becomes pretty much unreachable. That’s a lot of the web!

Here’s how I discovered it. I’ve had wire line phone trouble over the past few days. Interestingly (and thankfully!) my ADSL (1 pair of 2 coming into my home) remained fine while my dial tone went away. The voice pair indicated itself as permanently in-use and the pair at the demarc, when I tested, indicated reverse polarity. Today a tech came out, verified that the problem was on their end, and went to work.

He disconnected me out at the pedestal while he worked so I figured I’d simply use my smartphone’s hotspot. I use the feature often enough because it speeds my Internet connection by a factor of 35 or so over my wired ADSL connection. But this was the first time I needed to use it since Porky’s Windows 10 upgrade.

The hotspot connected straight away. I pointed my browser at the host I was working on and it reported ‘no connection’. I gave Google a quick ping and it answered – with its IPv6 address. I gave my target host a ping and it didn’t answer at all. I forced an IPv4 ping to Google (using ping’s -4 flag) and it, too, refused to answer.

I probed Porky’s network configuration for a while but haven’t come up with anything definitive yet. Until I do, the Windows 10 upgrade for the TwoFace2, our Surface Pro, is off the table. We use that little box often when we’re out and about at client sites and stuff, getting Internet through our smartphones when we do. Having that not work, or work only with IPv6 hosts, is not an option.

Oh, and if you’re wondering, the tech located two separate problems (!) with my voice pair between here and the CO, some 12,000+ feet away. (“Probably all this rain,” he said, “or maybe squirrels. Kill ’em if you see ’em, okay?”) He said he reassigned me a clean pair which restored my dial tone. I resisted the temptation to bitch about their antique DSLAM and just thanked him instead.

Shortly afterward the skies opened up. It’s the rainy season, after all.

Windows 10 Upgrade

Like millions of others, I’ve been running Windows 10 in a non-production environment for months and months. Mostly on virtual machines, the experience has been… pretty good!

But all the playing in the world is no substitute for a live update to a production OS running a production application load. Here are my experiences with Porky, my work-a-day desktop. Porky’s no slouch in the performance department. As we like to say sometimes, your mileage may vary.Windows 10 logo

Getting Ready
For those wanting to jump right in Microsoft has provided a Media Creation Tool. The tool handles the download for your chosen Windows 10 version and produces either an ISO file or a bootable USB thumb drive. I initially chose both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows 10 Pro versions and elected to produce an ISO file. To my dismay, the result was a file that’s too big to burn to DVD. Bummer, intermediate files are cleared when you finish with the tool so I couldn’t simply make the bootable USB stick without another lengthy download. The moral is that unless you enjoy a blazing, unmetered Internet connection, choose carefully when running the tool.

Use the resulting ISO or USB stick to either upgrade OR do a clean install. This is important: to upgrade your license key and activate Windows 10 you must UPGRADE your already installed, qualified Windows version FIRST. Do that by running Setup from the media. After you’ve upgraded and activated, if you wish, you can use the same media to do a clean install by booting it. Activate your clean install using your upgraded license key.

The remain preparation was simple. Over the past week or so I’ve reviewed applications, drivers, and so on, and upgrading/updating where necessary. And just before I imaged the boot drive. I verified and tested the image. Then I backed up Porky’s data drive array to an external drive. If Windows 10 left a smoking hole in my floor my data would still be safe.

Upgrade Duration
The upgrade took a while, which was a surprise. Not counting the download over my coffee-stirrer of an Internet pipe, upgrading my test environments – and the releases came hot-and-heavy toward the end – took only tens of minutes. Porky, by contrast, took well over an hour to complete. What’s more, there were a few periods of inactivity where progress appeared to stop altogether. If I had less patience I might have bailed. Instead I rode it out. Eventually a desktop appeared, sorta.

What’s this? VGA?
Porky settled into its first Windows 10 desktop in VGA mode, using only one monitor! The screaming fan of the mid-range Nvidia card was the clue and Device Manager confirmed that Microsoft had inserted their own generic display driver. A 280+ MB download from Nvidia plus a bit of fiddling fixed that.

Sleep
It was getting pretty late; the sun would be up soon. Even though Porky’s cold starts are lightning fast I use S3 sleep for a week or so at a time, which makes starts near instantaneous. Bump the mouse and it’s ready to work by the time my ass hits the chair. So that’s what I did in Windows 10.

When I returned to the office, coffee in hand, Porky was awake. Fans were screaming (not a good sign), the keyboard backlight was dark, and both keyboard and mouse were unresponsive. I leaned on the power button and Porky went down hard. I counted ten and powered up.

What the??? It was almost as though S3 sleep had worked after all!

Something’s flakey with recovering from the S3 low-power state. I’m not sure what. But I’ll be cold starting Porky until I get it sorted.

Start
I’m already used to the new Start menu, but that didn’t prepare me for the devastation the upgrade would bring. I’ve used the non-desktop, tiled interface in windows 8.1 as nothing more than an application launcher. I grouped my typical application loads together and my scroll finger had learned to horizontally move to the correct group. Finding things was easy!

The new Start menu seemed to have been filled by madmen on drugs. Finding stuff will be a pain in the ass until I could get organized. And sometimes, stuff just seemed to be missing altogether…

Missing Applications?
SmartFTP was the first of the missing. After confirming that it was still installed I ran a Repair sequence with its installer to bring it back. The installer complained, leaving a blank desktop in its wake. Via Task Manager I ran explorer.exe to get it back. The SmartFTP client runs, but it’s got some visual artifacts and the interface has some glitches. I guess the vendor will be updating that sucker pretty soon.

Have other applications fallen off the Start menu? Dunno, time will tell.

email
It’s no secret that I’m a heavy user of the venerable Eudora email client. It worked great in my test environments so I expected no problems. One click and the mail flowed.

Eudora hasn’t been maintained in nearly a decade. Kudos to its development team. The old girl lives on!

The first email check of the day usually brings me a bunch of stuff to do so I busied myself with that.

Performance
Microsoft has managed to do it again. I said before: Porky’s no slouch. Yet every (modern) Windows upgrade – 7 to 7SP1 to 8 to 8.1 to 8.1 Upgrade 1 to (now) 10 – has brought a noticeable performance boost. I’ll take it.

Other Weirdnesses
I’m only mentioning  odd stuff I notice. If I don’t mention it here then either I don’t use it or it seems okay.

SmartFTP I covered earlier.

Microsoft Word put itself through a series of gyrations with dialogues popping up and going away faster than they could be read. But that was just once. Thereafter it launched just fine. This was version 2010, by the way. I’ve seen no compelling reason to upgrade Office.

Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro Extended requested a Repair process when first launched. It took a while and asked for a reboot afterward. This is version 9, by the way. Acrobat’s expensive and this one works for me. The Repair sequence, available from the Help menu, took care of it. I can remember needing to do this before but can’t remember when or why, and I’m too lazy to search the system notebooks.

Cold starts will sometimes fail to load the driver for the Ethernet hardware on my motherboard. Porky’s cabled directly to my router through 1 of 2 available Ethernet ports on my motherboard. The port in use identifies itself as an Intel I210. The driver identifies itself as an Intel driver version 12.12.50.6. Near as I can tell, this is the latest and greatest, the Intel site shows nothing newer for Windows 10. The problem shows as a ‘no network’ condition, in Network Connections the adapter shows as Disabled and won’t Enable. In Device Manager, Update Driver Software finds a local driver, loads it, and the connection sets itself up straight away.

Conclusion
So far, this is less than a half day of experience following my Windows 10 upgrade. A few inconveniences, no showstoppers. I have yet to exercise the new stuff. This article is basically in the name of remaining productive, to help you decide whether to go ahead with your upgrade or wait it out a little.

Typos, bad grammar, and all that crap are my own. In the interest of speed, hey, you get what you pay for.

Changing the World

This points to a LONG article but it’s something you should read anyway. The title is exceedingly misleading – the author doesn’t actually get into talking about Tesla and Musk and his cars until more than halfway in! On the way there are lots of things to see and think about. Many well-thought-out graphics, links to sources and citations, and good footnotes, too.

Besides being interested in the subject material, something else that helped me breeze through the article is that I liked the writing style. You may or may not agree.

Depending on your interest and/or free time might take you a couple of sittings to work through this. Seriously.

So if the car industry has a cupcake and its parents are forcing it to eat vegetables, the oil industry has a cupcake but its parents are forcing it to eat razor blades. The car industry will resist the veggies and have a little tantrum before grudgingly giving in—the oil industry will furiously try to gouge the parents’ eyes out in resistance because for him, this is life and death.

How Tesla Will Change The World

http://waitbutwhy.com/2015/06/how-tesla-will-change-your-life.html

Eudora and SSL Certificate Failures

September 9, 2015 – I’ve revised this article, simplifying and shortening the steps involved!

See the revised article here.


Eudora rocks.

I’ve used this old and outdated Windows mail client since it was kind of new, more than 25 years ago. I chose it when I was moving my message store from a shell account to a PC, right around when PCs started to get reliable enough such work. Eudora was the first client I discovered whose message store was a simple transfer from Unix, drop-in, and run. I never looked back. Since then I’ve developed a rather extensive set of filters and such to efficiently manage dozens of email accounts and tens of GB of messages.

Bummer, Eudora hasn’t been actively supported since Qualcomm gave it up in 2006. Yeah, I know, it went Open Source. But IMHO they went and screwed it up.

As with any unsupported software, sometimes the passage of time breaks things. More than a few times I’ve cast about for another capable email client. It’s always gone the same way: I find none, get tired of searching, and turn my attention to propping the old girl up just a bit longer.

One afternoon in October last year one of my email hosts suddenly rejected its SSL certificate. It happens. When it does, Eudora offers to trust the new certificate. Thereafter all’s well. Not this time.

It wasn’t my host, and it wasn’t a critical account. Via trouble tickets, I went back and forth with the admins at the hosting company for the better part of a month. They’d suggest something, I’d try it – and maybe try a few things on my own – but nothing worked. Along the way I cast about for a replacement client and I came up dry. Finally I just shut off SSL for the account and got on with life. Not the best solution, but it worked. I really do need to find a new client! Maybe tomorrow… Yeah, right.

Last night Eudora rejected more certificates. This time it affected a multiple accounts on different domains. These were more important to me so I needed a solution.

And I found one.

First, some groundwork. My Eudora is version 7.1.0.9 running on Windows 8.1 Update 1. Of note, Eudora has a patched QCSSL.dll, needed since Microsoft made some changes to a library that caused the old client to loop for a Very… Long… Time… on the first use of SSL. I think that was around the time Windows 7 launched. Depending on your version(s), you may find differences in the dialogues and steps. I tried to give enough detail that you might find your way.

Let’s get started. The certificate rejection error looks like this:

Server SSL Certificate Rejected
Server SSL Certificate Rejected

See the question in the dialogue, “Do you want to trust this certificate in future sessions?”

It once was a simple matter of clicking the Yes button and that would be that. But that didn’t work in October and it didn’t work last night either.

Heres what to do to fix the problem.

Close the error dialogue and open Properties for the affected Persona. On the Incoming Mail tab (because it’s likely that a receive operation failed first), click the Last SSL Info button. The Eudora SSL Connection Information Manager opens. It looks like this:

Eudora SSL Connection Information Manager
Eudora SSL Connection Information Manager

There’s some weirdness in this dialogue, some confusion over host names. I think it’s a junk message. Click the Certificate Information Manager button. The Certificate Information Manager opens, and it looks like this:

Certificate Information Manager
Certificate Information Manager

Look at the section called Server Certificates. See the smiley face? That means trusted status. Expand that certificate tree in the usual way – click the plus sign next to it. Keep expanding, drilling down until you see one that’s untrusted. That’s the one with the skull ‘n crossbones. Of course.

The Certificate Information Manager panel, with the untrusted certificate, will now look something like this:

Certificate Information Managed - Expanded to show untrusted certificate
Certificate Information Managed – Expanded to show untrusted certificate

Click the offending untrusted certificate to select it then click the View Certificate Details button. The Certificate opens. It looks like this:

Certificate panel
Certificate panel

Select the General tab, if necessary, and click the Install Certificate button. The Certificate Import Wizard panel opens. It looks like this:

Certificate Import Wizard
Certificate Import Wizard – Location

Choose a Store Location – Current User or Local Machine – as needed for your situation. I chose the Current User because I’m the only user on this box. Click the Next button. The Certificate Import Wizard continues, and it looks like this:

Certificate Import Wizard – Certificate Store

The wizard asks where to store the certificate. Windows can automatically choose the Store based on the type of certificate, and that’s a pretty good choice. It’s also the default. Click the Next button to display a confirmation panel. It looks like this.

Certificate Import Wizard - Completing the Certificate Import Wizard
Certificate Import Wizard – Completing the Certificate Import Wizard

Click the Finish button.

Whew! It looks like the import was successful.

Certificate Import Wizard - Success!
Certificate Import Wizard – Success!

Click the OK button to close the Certificate Import Wizard.

Now, you’ll be looking at the Certificate Information Manager again, just how we left it.

Certificate Information Managed - Expanded to show untrusted certificate
Certificate Information Managed – Expanded to show untrusted certificate

 

With the untrusted skull ‘n crossbones certificate highlighted, click the Add To Trusted button. Then click the Done button to close the Certificate Information Manager.

Finally, try to reach the server that rejected the SSL certificate in the first place.

Did it work?

If it did then you’re finished.

Uh oh, waddya mean, it didn’t work?

You’ll need to go back and follow those steps again.

I hear you now. “Only an idiot does the same thing over and over expecting different results.”

Well, you’ll notice that the next time through the Certificate Information Manager will show a deeper tree of Server Certificates before you get to the untrusted certificate. You’ll need to drill deeper.

You may need to import and add several before achieving success. After a couple of imports it’s easy to forget the Add To Trusted button. Don’t ask me how I know!

I hope that helps someone.

Sometimes I think I’m the very last Eudora user out there. I’d love to hear from others. In fact, if you’ve moved off Eudora and found a decent replacement, I’d love to hear that, too. I know it’s only a matter of time.


 

Additional information added April 17, 2015…

One person described, in the comments below, that he she had some difficulty with the Add To Trusted button in the Certificate Information Manager when working with Google’s new certificates. His Her insight came when he she realized that he she was simultaneously viewing this post with Google Chrome. When he she closed Chrome and went through the process again, everything worked.

A big THANK YOU goes out to one Pat Toner for checkin’ in and increasing the value of this post with his her feedback. I owe you a beer, Pat. And an apology for my gender assumption based on name.

Selective Service

A friend recently asked…

I was wondering if you had to register for the draft, or you’re in that “gap” group where Selective Service was doing next to nothing? At one time, some of us had to show younger co-workers what a draft card looked like and explain it! You’re younger than I am but maybe not THAT young.

I DID have to register.

I was designated 1S because I was still in high school. Vietnam was in full swing and I watched a number of my older friends leave to serve. (Some made it home whole, some not so whole, and some never made it back at all.) During my final year, 1973, the draft was still going strong. I had left home that spring and as school wound down I was watching that lottery stuff pretty carefully. I’d soon go from a safe 1S to a prime 1A target. Now, I was a skinny little shit, not especially keen on combat. Having already lost friends there, frankly, it scared me. There was this other, fairly new designation – Conscientious Objector, or 1AO – that one could apply for, and I tried for that. As a 1AO, if inducted, I’d serve but wouldn’t be assigned to active combat. There was a bit of paperwork, I collected letters from teachers, church… wherever I could… to substantiate my application. It didn’t work. I became a 1A. Then, in the lottery, my number: 26! It looked like I’d be going in. I waited for my letter. It never arrived and in August the whole thing shut down. The active draft was one of the first things to stop, it was such a political hot button. I’m fairly certain I got very, very drunk when the news hit.

I learned, as I filled in the gaps of this story, that the groundwork for an all-volunteer U.S. military began as early as the end of January, 1973, although it took a while for the shutdown of the draft to actually happen. It leads me to wonder how many young bodies inducted after Laird’s signature but before the last kid shipped out didn’t come home…

I’m pretty sure I still have my draft card somewhere but I can’t recall seeing it for a very long time. It’s probably in that file of papers I dutifully (and securely) care for when I relocate. Stuff goes into that store after which it seldom sees the light of day.

Funny thing. Registration was compulsory when my kid came of age. It was easy, not like it was when I registered and had to personally appear at an office downtown. The process may have actually started with something as simple as an extra checkbox on his DS11 when he upgraded to an ‘adult’ passport at 16. Shortly after he turned 18 he received a letter containing his registration information. There’s no active draft today but his registration card is, actually, a draft card, should the government choose to start drafting again.

[sigh] Over the decades, like many others, my views on military service have changed a great deal.

I haven’t thought about those experiences for a long time. That was a good question, thanks for asking.

December Updates Break Excel

We use Microsoft Excel quite a bit around here, and many workbooks use a good deal of automation. Just imagine my surprise when stuff simply stopped working one day.

Buttons stopped buttoning, objects wouldn’t create… weird stuff. The first time I noticed it I restored a backup but no, that didn’t help. When I noticed the failures were affecting everything I knew the problem was… bigger.

And it was. The update Microsoft rolled out earlier this month for Forms Controls (FM20.dll) broke things for some users, where some users included me!

Here’s a pointer to more information, in case some users includes you as well:

Form Controls stop working after December 2014 Updates

Wrenchin’ on the Dyna

Today I spent a goodly part of the day wrenchin’ the Dyna. An interval service was a bit overdue and I wanted t get it done before Biketoberfest. Bummer, I found a few issues…

There’s a bit of debris in the thick part of the tread on the rear tire. It’s about a millimeter thick by maybe 3 millimeters long. No leak, I doubt it goes all the way through, but I didn’t pull it out, either. When I get back I’ll order a new tire. I’m not happy because this tire, while not new, isn’t all that old either. But I don’t like to screw with tires, they’re too important. For the near term I’m going to gamble that it’ll survive the next week or so. I hope that’s not a mistake.

There’s been a nagging hot-start issue for a while now. No issue on cold starts at all, only hot. So I tore into the starter wiring which, for this bike, meant removing the battery and the caddy it lives in, along with associated hardware. I discovered the boot covering the battery positive on the starter had obviously been dislodged for a while. The terminal nut’s torque was a bit under spec, too, so I cleaned that all up and put it back together. Not sure if it cured the issue but it hasn’t been touched since 2008 so maybe…

While the battery caddy was out I had partial access to the back of the electrical caddy on the other side of the bike. I’ve wanted to get back there for a while. For nearly a year I’ve chased an intermittent demon that causes a fuse to blow. The fuse takes out the signals and brake lights. Not good.

Intermittent problems are hard, but careful observation has me believing it’s only triggered when actuating the left signal. It never occurs when I ride alone, only when Pam’s ridin’ bitch. The frequency has been on the rise.

So, poking around back there with a powerful flashlight I thought I saw the glint of copper through some worn insulation. Digging a little deeper confirmed it. The harness had rubbed the back of the starter housing, and apparently for some time.

It’s going to take some effort to effect a permanent repair. There’s very limited access there, and no less than three separate bundles enter the harness just upstream from that spot. It’s all got to come apart so I can open the harness. From there it might be as simple as wrapping the worn spots or as hard as replacing one or more individual wires.

I just don’t have the time now, I need the bike running for Biketoberfest. So I wrapped the offending spot with insulating tape as best I could.

The lesson here is not to put off service until a few days before an event. You never know what you’re going to find.

Tomorrow I’ll finish up, clean and put away the tools,  and give the ‘ol Dyna a much-needed bath.

See you in Daytona!

[UPDATE – August 20th – Not a single fuse has blown in several hundreds of miles of two-up ridin’ so I think that’s one problem fully identified. The permanent fix will be a bit of a pain in the ass, but that’s okay. The hot-start issue remains. Daytona was  a blast.]

Inventory

It’s been a long time – maybe too long – since I took inventory of the boxes we use regularly for various purposes around the house.

Except for the DOS box, and maybe the AutoCAD box, these are all in use with frequencies ranging from 24/7 to at least weekly. Omitted are the embedded things, iPods and so on. Making this list just now was a good exercise that surprised me. I mean, no wonder people look at me funny.

(no name) – MS DOS 6.22
Exists solely to run VisiCalc, the very first electronic spreadsheet that the world had ever seen. I fire it up now and again for folks to show ’em just what computing used to be. It has no name because, well, machines didn’t need names back then. You turned ’em on, used ’em, turned ’em off. Pulling the plug was every bit as good as thumbing the power switch.

change – Windows XP Professional Service Pack 3 – 32-bit
This laptop runs software that I need to use in weird places, like out in the garage tuning motorcycles. It got its name because I bought it with pocket change. I told the story in another post.

coco – IOS, version 8 I suppose, too lazy to look
An iPad tablet. It’s good for reading magazines or looking something up quickly at the dinner table or controlling the TV. Bummer Safari sucks so bad.

darthvader – Windows 7 Professional Service Pack 2 – 32-bit
The media client that lives out by the pool, so we have cool tunes out there when we get tired of the radio.

dbox – GNU/Linux 3.13.0-36-generic x86_64
A VirtualBox host machine.

family – GNU/Linux 3.2.0-69-generic-pae i686
A secure, encrypted file server where the family’s data jewels are stored.

hydra – Windows 7 Professional Service Pack 1 – 32-bit
Out in the garage, this runs a long-term project 24/7 – when it’s up. Presently it’s down, though, because a fan protecting its I/O hub is threatening failure and needs a little lube. I’ll get to it.

isolation – Windows 7 Professional Service Pack 1 – 32-bit
A sacrificial machine, stuff that needs testing and vetting in a Windows environment isolated from everything – EVERYTHING else – runs here first. Air-gap stuff. Easy to wipe and restore to a known good image.

jesus – Windows 7 Professional Service Pack 1 – 64-bit
My son’s gaming rig and desktop. It’s slightly dated now, but as we built it and installed things, stuff completed faster than we thought possible. We’d look again, and yup, it was done, leading us to exclaim “Jesus!” The name stuck.  UPDATE – FEBRUARY 2013  jesus died, according to the BIOS status LEDS, of a processor initialization failure. jesus was replace by lucifer.

lucifer – Windows 7 Professional Service Pack 1 – 64-bit
Essentially jesus with a new motherboard, CPU, and memory. My son’s gaming rig and desktop.

macnam – GNU/Linux 3.2.0-69-generic-pae i686
A MySQL database server. Firesign Theatre fans will recognize the name.

magic – GNU/Linux 3.13.0-36-generic i686
The family’s intranet server. Holds subscription material, a software library, and so on. A basic LAMP server where, sometimes, a bit of Web development gets its start before being deployed elsewhere.

merc – Windows 7 Professional Service Pack 1 – 32-bit
An old, small HP netbook with a great keyboard. I’ll write with this out on the deck because the keyboard is so good and the battery life is measured in days.

minecraft  – GNU/Linux 2.6.38-16-generic-pae i686
Duh, it’s a minecraft server, what did you think it was?

overkill – Windows 7 Home Service Pack 1 – 64-bit
Used exclusively for secure communications with entities that require that sort of thing. Well-patched, no email, no browsing, no nothing except its one single purpose.

porky – Windows 8.1 Professional Update 1 – 64-bit
My primary desktop. It replaced whisky, the desktop I blew up with a ham-handed move with its internal power cables – while it was running. Oops.

rdnzl – Windows XP Professional Service Pack 3 – 32-bit
An old, old laptop, usually hardwired to the DSL modem because sometimes the modem needs a direct connection to recover when  it misbehaves. On the other hand, just the other week it came in handy to run some old proprietary software to collect audio files from a Sony dictation device. You just never know. Frank Zappa fans will recognize the name.

sheepdip – Windows 7 Professional Service Pack 1 – 32-bit
Runs AutoCAD Architect, with which I heavily modified the design of a home. We presently live in the result of that effort. Named for a blended  Scotch whisky.

showtime – GNU/Linux 3.2.0-69-generic-pae i686
A media server. Music, video, and more.

success – GNU/Linux 3.2.0-69-generic-pae i686
A QuickBooks server supporting the business. Does double-duty as a file server for the business, too.

thor – Windows 8.1 Professional Update 1 – 64-bit
Pam’s desktop. Next in line for a refresh, the overclocked Intel quad-core’s getting a little long in the tooth.

twoface2 – Windows 8.1 Professional Update 1 – 64-bit
A first generation Microsoft Surface Pro, this is the travel box. Good enough for me and/or Pam to do just about anything when we’re on the road.

udesk – GNU/Linux 3.2.0-63-generic-pae i686
Just a plain ol’ Linux desktop, when I’m home and a Windows desktop doesn’t quite cut it.

win7-32 – Windows 7 Professional Service Pack 1 – 32-bit
For running stuff that I don’t want cluttering up a work-a-day machine. These days, that’s photo gallery processing, mostly. Naming this one wasn’t one of my most creative moments.

winnie – Windows XP Professional Service Pack 3 – 32-bit
An unsupported holdout. Then again, there’s software that modern OSs won’t cope with, or have no modern analog, or I just don’t care to upgrade. That stuff runs here. One good example is when I need to pull something from an Outlook message store; I’ll be damned if I want Outlook near anything valuable.

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