Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Older workers often take jobs for much less after long layoffs

Here’s another story about older workers making less when they finally find jobs, often of an interim nature, on AOL, by Richard Eisenberg, link
I have to admit that what I experienced at age 58-1/2 starting in 2002 was nothing less than a “free market cultural revolution”.  I took my turn, going from making $73000 a year (reasonable then in Minneapolis) to $6 plus commissions.  That all sounds rather Maoist now, taking turns, “paying your dues”.  It’s as if equality could be achieved by making everyone take his turn at low-wage, more regimented work (see related story on my main blog, March 30).  Actually, mine wasn’t bad, as I called for contributions to the Minnesota Orchestra, and I know music.  Logical, right?  And it was a part-time job.  I still drew unemployment and severance.  I lived pretty well.

Monday, March 30, 2015

"Wild Tales" of customer service problems on a Monday morning

Here’s a little wild tale with customer service.
I go to a local barber shop.  The back entrance, near the parking lot, is locked.  I hike around, on a bad hip, to the entrance, and find the owner, with the key on the lam.  The one barber has an unusual line. Fortunately, another barber shows up and they get the cash register working. I get “served” in about twenty minutes.
I go to a “drug” store next door.  I use the cash back (to avoid a trip to the bank) on the debit cardm and the cashier finds out it isn’t set up on that register.  We have to start over on another register.
I go to a 7-11.  Most of the parking spaces have cones while contractors paint and fill potholes. 
Then I go to another pharmacy to pick up a GQ.  This time, only one register is open, and one customer is taking forever.  Finally, after ten minutes, a manager opens another register.
It’s hard to give good customer service on low wages. 
Picture: Imajica dominions.  I'm sure that Facebook is available on all five of Clive Barker's planets.  

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Silicon Valley to "average" millennials: "Drop Dead".

David R. Wheeler’s op-ed “Silicon Valley to Millennials: Drop Dead” has to be ruffling some sails this morning, link here.  Of course, that’s a paraphrase of “Ford to City: Drop Dead” in 1975 (during NYC’s financial crisis).
Yup, the most talented kids can probably get good jobs, even while still in college, developing apps or probably working in cybersercurity, if they go to school in a place like Silicon Valley or Research Triangle Park (NC).  That could help pare down debt and get a head start on adult hood.
I recall a performance evaluation back in the 90s, where the median rating was 3 out of 5, “achieves”.  That sounds like a “C”.  In the work world, that wasn’t so bad, at least then.
But for a lot of people now, they face a world of lower wages, and a “sharing economy” where you take a lot of risk or invest a lot of capital to have a job at all.  I avoided most of that – even buying the $500 suits.  I can remember even my little $50 gray suit that got a snide remark from a disadvantaged person in the NYC Subway one time.  “Those were the days, my friend.  I thought they would never end”.  But they did.  Remember EDS?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

More on IAStorlcon

Latest is that right now the HP Envy requires restart to activate the wireless keyboard, but another startup menu push from Intel fixed the "deteriorating mouse" problem.

Usually the machine is stable. But today, while doing a Retweet, I got a strange error "IAStorlcon.exe a new guard page for the stack cannot be created" was well as a Pokki error and Skype error when I wasn't running either one.

 HP Support tweeted to me "There is a service that runs to support Intel Rapid Storage Technology. RST works primarily with SATA, RAID and SSD setups and has minimal gain on single mechanical drives. If you like, you can actually uninstall RST in Programs and Features and wouldn't notice any difference, HPSocial".

I'll try this soon.

Update: March 25 

Microsoft tells me that Pokki is the desktop manager used by some vendors, including HP. Story link here.

Update:  April 9

Another source says IAStorlcon should not be removed, but be repaired by a technician with registry repair, source WHatIs, here

Monday, March 16, 2015

More about the world of low-wage work

Wonder what it would be like to really work for a living?  Well, do it.  Or read the front page story in The Washington Post Sunday, “For the biscuit shift of today, life’s ladder has wobbly rungs; At this Hardee;s almost everyone works to live”, link here.
The article harks back to Barbara Ehrenreich’s experiments with low wage work (“Nickel and Dimed”, 2001), as well as to my own father’s exhortations on manual labor. Fast food environments would really test "whether you can work."  For professionals, often in the 50s, whose IT skills went sour, it’s “the free market cultural revolution” of stringing together interim jobs.  Call it “paying your dues”.  Of course, higher minimum wages could help.
And we wonder if this kind of problem is societal, or personal.
It’s both.
My lowest wage was $6 and hour, calling for the Minnesota Orchestra in 2002-2003, but I earned some commissions and actually had some stability.  As a debt collector, later I made $10, and commissions.  (A lot of people worked as debt collectors then, sometime moonlighting tending bar.)  

Sunday, March 15, 2015

No, I don't have time to BetaTest Microsoft, Intel, HP and Toshiba "advanced" features that cause crashes

On March 12, 2015, when I got home from a day trip and logged on to my HP Envy, I got a notification that the desktop had been updated, and the system forced me to run one more update (past the Windows 8 Firewall).

The update seemed to involve the Intel Technology Access Driver and two applications, as well as the Microsoft 6to4 adapter and ISATAP adapter.

I don’t know what these drivers do, and the forums on the Internet are unclear as to what they accomplish, example here.
But since the update, I find that the wireless Bluetooth keyboard won’t come on at all until I do a full Restart (the Windows 8.1 pseudo-instant-start seems to have dropped it), and over time, the mouse becomes jerky, with the Reliability monitor reporting  On the activity Reliability log, I see a message “Windows Wireless Lan 802.11 extensibility framework has stopped working”. 
I need to use my machines for my own business and art applications.  I don’t have the time or money for a systems programming staff to maintain an unstable operating system with bloated, unnecessary features that I never use and that cause crashes.  I don’t have time to beta test Microsoft’s. Intel’s, and HP’s (and Toshiba) systems.  

Monday, March 09, 2015

Notes on a Toshiba Satellite firmware update

Today, I did a firmware update on my Toshiba Satellite.  It updated the Bios from Version 1.2 to 1.6
However it behaved a little differently that other Service Station updates.  It required actual connection to external power, and the “Install” process, after the normal Windows 8.1 Firewall, went to an unusual console-like screen to show the update. 

The Restart would not complete (after the Toshiba icon came back up) until hitting the power button one more time, which the instructions did not tell the user to do.

Because I had a battery issue last week, I wonder if this update does deal with potential power supply management issues. 

The update was dated Feb. 2.  I admit I hadn’t checked, and might have risked complications by not doing it until after DST change.

It is very important to keep laptops that will be used in travel updated as soon as the firmware or OS updates come out.  Laptops should be checked for updates several days before air travel, and used more frequently and powered up completely before going to the airport.  

The newer Satellite does not have its own recovery drive.  I don’t know how that would affect the Microsoft Restore Point. 

Friday, March 06, 2015

A dress rehearsal with a boot-up failure, on a day I don't have to fly

An interesting thing happened with my Toshiba Satellite (the replacement for the larger one that cratered last August after the installation of Windows 8.1).   It wouldn’t get past the Toshiba screen (again) when I tried to start it today.
That was true when I plugged it in to the current. But it seems that the Toshiba does not even work off of current until the battery is at least 8% charged.  Most laptops work immediately when you plug them in.
Maybe I had left it unplugged when I did the update Wednesday.  I thought it was plugged. 
What if I had taken it with me to the airport, I would have missed the flight (story).  A good thing this happened when there is no immediate travel.  It’s another possibility to consider when booking a plane.  Keep your devices plugged in for a couple days before going, and actually check them.  This is a big deal for people who have to travel for work.  Those days could come again for me. 

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Mark Zuckerberg's rule for hiring

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, has an interesting rule-of-thumb when interviewing job candidates.
“I will hire someone only if I could work for him or her”.  That is, upward affiliation is out.
That’s the message in a Marketwatch article by Quentin Fottrell, here
At Applebee’s, an upscale family restaurant chain, a candidate for an executive job was asked “Are you better than me?”  The answer was “yes”, but the candidate would not have been hired if it had not been affirmative.  I can remember that we all retired to Applebee’s on University Ave. in St. Paul MN the night I gave my lecture on my book at Hamline University, on crutche, in Feb. 1998.  It’s an evening I remember well.  (I got a speeding traffic driving home, my most recent one still). 

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Microsoft supplies a "pseudo service pack" to Windows ("8.1.2"?)

Microsoft did a large update on its Windows 7 and 8 systems early today, with some people calling it “Windows 8.1.2”.  The KB is 3000850, and Microsoft’s explanation is here.  MSFN has a forum discussing the update here. It includes several other updates and is aimed particularly at servers and certain 3rd party vendor firmware. Microsoft calls it a "November 2014 update rollup". 
The update took about fifteen minutes to install on each of my two machines.  The Windows Reconfigurations took longer than usual, particularly the early portion.  After the first start, the HP Envy was very slow, and Microsoft Word had trouble with its Macros. It seemed to fix itself.  I restarted a second time, which was slow, too, but then the computer worked normally.  A third restart took a normal amount of time.
On a Toshiba labtop, the updates went a little faster.  But it also required a second restart, for the password manager.  The Toshiba, by the way, does not seem to have a recovery disk area, so I don’t know how a recovery point would work.

Update: March 6 

I didn't have a crash for almost three days, but today I got one, when trying to look at the properties o an image in Windows explorer.  The event log shows this:

The server {1B1F472E-3221-4826-97DB-2C2324D389AE} did not register with DCOM within the required timeout.

Tapping the Power button twice restarted the machine normally, as usual.
It also refers to an earlier crash that did not happen, as far as I can tell.

The computer seems more stable than it did before, but still needs to be truly "restarted" at least once every ten hours of use, or so.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

More on the HP Envy Hard Disk Error and Windows 8 "true Restart"

Last night, I got another false “Hard Disk Error” on the HP Envy.  This time, the keyboard seemed attached OK by the wireless Bluetooth, so I tried to follow the script with F2.  The memory test seemed OK but took much longer than expected.  The Hard Drive test has a brief and extended version.  The brief version said I didn’t have a necessary module (I wish I had the presence of mind to photo it).  The extended one said it couldn’t find the boot section.  But I pressed the power button to turn it off, waited about 30 seconds, and then pressed it again.  It booted up normally, taking a little longer (with a blank screen stage) than normal.
I find that if I “Restart” the machine at least once a day (don’t just power it off, and then power it on and take advantage of Windows 8.1 quick boot) these crashes are much less likely.  The “Restart” refreshes everything and also configures any Windows updates.   It usually takes about 30 second longer than a hard start.   

One other little glitch to note:  sometimes the screen will go blank as if going to sleep, and recover in about one second.  That happens only once in any boot cycle.

Back in September, Geek Squad did run its own hard drive check on this computer and found no errors.  I did run Microsoft's check in September and found a few, which Windows 8.1 fixed automatically (already discussed), except for "prnprcla.inf".  It's also important to note that Webroot Secure Anywhere does not find any malware.