Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


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   evaporative freezing
Friday, March 26 2010
It still being march, it was inevitable that the warm weather wouldn't last. It took a turn for the cold today, bringing an end to the longest period of March warm weather that I can ever remember (at least on the East Coast). I had a pair of ski pants hanging out to dry on the rail of the south deck and at some point today when I went to retrieve it I discovered it was frozen stiff. Interestingly, the air temperature at the time was about 37 degrees, suggesting that evaporative cooling encouraged by a strong steady breeze had managed to drop its temperature below freezing. I hadn't known this was possible.
In my continuing efforts to get the newly Atom-330-powered Badger (Gretchen's computer) to go into power-saving modes automatically, I've been thwarted at every stage. 32 bit Windows XP wouldn't go into standby or hibernate at all. 64 bit Windows XP would go into standby and hibernate, but S3 standby would lock up the computer after about a minute, necessitating a complete power down and reboot. So today I tried Windows 7, the latest Microsoft OS.
When it comes to OSes (and technology in general), I'm actually not much of an early-adopter. At one time I used to love to get the latest and greatest software, but that was before software upgrades became more about maintaining and spreading market dominance than about providing additional useful features. So, for example, I'd taken special satisfaction in the failure of Windows Vista as an operating system. Aside from a few minor issues, I'd been perfectly happy with Windows XP and saw Vista as a bloated monopolistic attempt to squeeze yet another completely-unnecessary upgrade cycle out of its customers. But I'd heard good things about Windows 7, and I had a copy of it to install, so I thought I'd try it out.
I'd actually tried Windows 7 first in another computer just to see if I could make its interface similar enough to Windows 2000 to not freak out Gretchen. (I make a point of setting up Windows XP machines with the "Classic" theme and start menu, because I prefer the no-nonsense interface of Windows NT and 2000 to the what-do-you-think-I'm-retarded? interface of Windows XP.). Aside from the differences in the start menu and the newly heinous, misshapened icons, I'd been able to get Windows 7 to be pretty Windows 2000esque, so today I decided to do the upgrade. It went smoothly, with a lot less babysitting than an XP installation requires. Also, I didn't have to install any drivers for the Atom 330 motherboard. All of them must be known to Microsoft.
But after all of that, the computer still behaved in standby as it had under 64 bit Windows XP. So I decided to use S1 standby instead of S3. It only saves about 12 watts of power (out of a total of about 39), but it works, and so does hibernate (where you get 100% power savings), so I decided I could live with this for now.
I can't say I'm all that happy with the Windows 7 interface. The control panel is now essentially a set of web pages linked by hyperlinks, but their design isn't especially good and it's hard to find things that used to be easy to find (such as the time setting for going into hibernate). You'd think with all the money Microsoft has spent on this thing, they'd be able to make a nice intuitive interface. But no, it seems their priority here had been "interface churn," wherein things are moved around not to make things easier to find and tasks easier to to, but to make it different from what had been before. Interface churn is a hallmark of an upgrade motivated entirely to force a wave of software purchases.
As for why S3 standby continues to be a problem, I have a theory. I'm using a passively-cooled SilenX Luxurae power supply rated at 340 watts. As I said, the Atom computer uses 39 watts in normal operation, and its S3 standby state probably uses less than the two watts used by most computers in S3 standby. I think what is happening is that the power supply "thinks" the computer has powered down during S3 standby, and so doesn't provide the necessary power to keep the memory alive. So then the computer crashes and the power supply enters an uncertain state where the only way to get it to work again is to reset it completely by unplugging it.

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