Tuesday, August 26, 2014

More on the Windows 8.1 fast boot and "hybrid reboot"

The latest news in the saga of my burn-in with the HP Envy All-in-one is that I still get some freezes after a cold boot. 
What I’ve noticed is that when I power it off, and power it right back on, the “reboot” is still pretty quick, and the work session is as it was before the crash.  That’s because in 8.1, as long as there is power to the machine (it doesn’t have a battery but I do have it plugged in to a UPS) the firmware stays active, so the computer is in a kind of hibernation or “rem sleep”.   I don’t seem to get crashes or freezes after the second boot.  Tech Republic explains this here. The symptoms suggest that the cold boot doesn’t start everything the computer needs, and that second boot finishes bringing up everything. Maybe that’s a startup menu or registry issue. 
In a previous post, I just added HP’s own instructions for self-check and repair of the hard drive, which seems to take place at a deeper level than Microsoft’s “scannow”, available to an administrator at the command prompt.  I haven’t tried the HP protocol yet, but right now the problems appear to be more software and firmware, despite the fact that the machine throws a “hard disk error” if it tries to reboot itself after a freeze.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Women's pay seems to lag in the "interim job market"

The heavy occurrence of part-time jobs in working women who have children is keeping their earnings, even at an hourly rate, less than that of men, and with a much greater disparity than in professions, according to a study by Claudia Goldin, as reported in the New York Times Wednesday Aug, 20 by Claire Cain Miller in a column called “The Upshot”, link.  Companies pay less per hour to cover overhead for employees not there all the time.  Women in service jobs are less likely to return to work quickly after pregnancy and are less likely to have household help with husbands.
I really didn’t encounter this observation in my own years in the “interim job market” after my own “first career” ended in 2001. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Windows 8.1 on HP, corruption of prncacla.inf, and hash mismatch

I followed the instructions on the post two days ago and ran "sfc /scannow" as administrator.

It took about 20 minutes.

Then I browsed C:\windows\logs\CBS\CBS.log.  It looked like it repaired all errors but one with prncacla.inf, at the very end.  The message says some corrupted files might not be repaired.  This may relate to printer drivers.

Windows 8.1 on the C drive with Properties and Tools tells me that it find no errors on the drive now.

I will have to look into this.

One reference from SYSNATIVE is here. Another, from Microsoft, on hash mishmash, is here.

This is a developing issue.  I will post more as I learn more.
Please comment if you know anything.  Comments are moderated.

Update: Aug. 26.  

There are sporadic symptoms:  a hang, or a forced restart with a hard drive error

HP's support instructions now seem to be this and this

Monday, August 18, 2014

"Coders" will be "Gone baby gone" from the job market by age 40; app developers have to work with kids

Young adult candidates for programming jobs face “code on command” at job interviews and may face limited careers, over by 40, according to this article in Bloomberg, by Norman Matloff.   Coding jobs may  pay better than most others for those in their 20s, but after 40 it will be hard to move on without specializing in something hot or learning how to sell, this article suggests.  Employers will want more (cheaper) twenty-somethings. 

My own mainframe career lasted until age 58 (at the end of 2001), although in in retrospect it seems it took me much longer to mature than it should have.   The last two years I was in customer support “fixing bugs” in something I had not developed.  

In another area, the NBC show Today show on Monday morning demonstrated how app developers work with small children to test apps.  Even quasi-parenting is suddenly a desired skill. 

Also, Tech Republic has a story by Erin Carson "The tech resume may not be dead yet, but its pulse is fading", link here.  Now the trend is "social media intelligence" or "social listening", and for some jobs, to see what code people have created in open source.  Somehow this reminds me both of "remote viewing" and of the "forward observer" idea in Army artillery.  There's a new job-matching site called "Loose Monkies" here.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

HP Firmware updates care that you use the right Bluetooth driver

Early Sunday morning the HP Support Center, for my HP Envy, immediately advised me it wanted to do firmware updates.  It did several, and took about 15 minutes.  The "install" portion remained "x" while the download portion had green checks. After a restart, which follows the pattern of Windows updates, the Support Center was still advising that it had not done the Broadcom 20702 Bluetooth update.

That seems to be because I have an Insignia bluetooth for the wireless keyboard, because I couldn't find the Bluetooth in the box.

I got one more hang this morning, on Amazon.com, looking for the device!    Maybe that is related.  It seems to happen when going to a complicated web page and then taking the hand off the mouse for a while.  The mouse will move, but the computer doesn't respond. even to tapping the Windows sign on the lower left corner of the screen.

Update: Aug. 19

Geek Squad says that the firmware update is unnecessary if a different Bluetooth works.  

Friday, August 15, 2014

More issues with HP ENVY stability during burn-in

A little more experience with the HP Envy.  It is very fast.  But I had a second forced hard drive error Thursday from SMART.  So far, it seems to happen only after a Microsoft update if I let the computer go to sleep before shutting down normally and doing a cold restart.  So this may be firmware.

I also had the second PC freeze.  I had just booted up normally.  Maybe I didn't wait very long, until going to my own site in Chrome.  It seemed to freeze after a shockwave YouTube embed had loaded.  I tried tapping the windows symbol on the tablet screen, and it was frozen.  So I had to turn it off and wait two minutes.  Boot up was OK, slightly slower than usual.  Action Center tells me in Reliability that Windows was not shut down normally.

So I worked a while, OK, then turned it off normally, waited two minutes, and turned it back on.  (The HP power button won't work for about two minutes).  So far, so good.  It boots very fast, but it seems to be a minute or so before the circle stops spinning.  I took a little more time.

I'll leave this link (for my own future reference) for how you check an HP harddrive for errors or any corruption and fix it.  The link from an HP discussion forum is here. There are details here as to how to look for corrupted sectors and fix them, while running as administrator.  Guess I'll print it out.  Or look at it on the iPad.

Update: Aug, 19

Microsoft has a KB on this kind of problem, which seems to be fairly common, link(about a "clean boot") here.

Later Aug 19:  Windows signed on once with a temporary profile.  A hard reboot fixed it.  But here is what Microsoft says about it.  My experience with 8.1 so far is that seems a little unstable.  More bugs to fix.

Got a crash while in Google account.  HP said it needed to restart, but got a hard drive error

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Burn-in report on Hewlitt-Packard HP Envy All-in-one

In one day of use of the HP ENVY All-in-One, here is what has happened:

Carbonite was installed, and did the complete 34G backup in about 18 hours.  It really did speed up when the system wasn't in use.  The backup was complicated by the fact that the Geek Squad backup actually has a second copy of everything under :Desktop".

Windows 8 froze once,  This happened in Google Chrome when browsing a complicated page on cnn.com.  Chrome was trying to locate a particular ad file (I might have passed the cursor over).  I had to turn off the machine and cold boot.  It took a little longer than usual but then everything worked.  Windows 8 does not warn you that it was not properly closed down.

Overnight, Windows applied a huge number of 8.1 updates to the new computer.  The Restart process, with all the configuration steps, took about 20 minutes but worked OK.

A while ago, the HP gave a blue screen with a hard drive error.  No f-keys worked.  I simply turned the machine off and on, and the machine booted normally, although it took slightly longer than usual.  Then I closed Windows normally, turned the machine off, and then rebooted and it was very fast. The error may have occurred as the computer was going to sleep when I was away from it to make lunch.

I went into the HP Support Assistant and signed up for all the crash reports and automatic notifications of firmware downloads

HP has a writeup on hard-drive errors, here.  There is a firmware system called SMART which warns of hard drive failures.  The writeup admits that "false positive" errors can occur.  It recommends defragging the hard drive frequently, which Microsoft Action Center in Windows 8 is supposed to do.  The Action Center did not show the failure in its Reliability Report.

Update: Aug 14

The Hard Drive Error occurred tonight, after I had let the machine go to sleep after a successful Windows update, which was massive.  The machine started OK when turned off and on.  I found some of the updates had failed.  I redid them, and they worked.  Then I closed the machine normally.  I cold started it normally.  It seems that I don't have a problem if I do a cold normal start shortly after finishing an update.  HP has a firmware update scheduled Aug 17.  This sounds more like firmware than hardware per se.  Will take a picture if it happens again.  May ask Geek Squad in a phone call tomorrow,  Best link seems to be this.

Monday, August 11, 2014

A "final solution" for my Windows 8.1 upgrade problem -- cheat


Well, to keep things moving, I had to get a more modern computer again. the HP ENVY-All-in-one, Windows 8.1.  There is a wide screen, a stand, with wireless keyboard and mouse, and standalone DVD player.  There are four USB ports.  It's possible to get it with wired keyboard and mouse.

Now, new Microsoft Office licenses come with Office 365.  The Personal version is "rented" for $69 a year with a license for 1 PC/Mac and one Tablet.  It offers all the usual products (Access must be downloaded separately), link here.

This unit does not have its own battery.  So I bought a CyberPower for $64.99.  It takes 8 hours to store a supply of energy.  But I found that the Brothers Laser Printer would not run on it;  it would shut the power supply off immediately (it will run through the surge protection side only). That caused the HP to get shut off. Bootup was a little slower than usual, and it doesn't tell you that Windows did not shut down normally.  The power button must be pressed on the right side of the lever.

The Toshiba Satellite has been sent out to Toshiba in Kentucky.  Geek Squad says that the mother board failed completely (as had the fan and touchpad).  Why this would happen on the first cold boot after a successful restart in 8.1 remains a mystery.

Update: Sept. 6

The GeekSquad report sheet indicates that up to four parts have been ordered.  It seems that the unit overheated during the Windows 8.1 update.  After being allowed to cool a few minutes after shutdown, it cracked.  I think the fan, touchpad, thermostat were replaced first, and now the complete mother board.  This sounds like a Toshiba large laptop engineering design problem, not able to take the stress of a prolonged service update from Microsoft.  I suppose the same thing could happen with a major service pack.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Going from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 -- slow!

I did install Windows 8.1 on my Toshiba Satellite computer this evening. 

The process starts by going to the Windows Store and clicking on the visible icon to install it.

It did not give someone the option of waiting to install later.  The download took about 30 minutes on a typical Comcast XFinity high speed connection.  It then prompted me to Restart.  It did not give me a choice on the matter (to wait up to two days).

The Restart went through many separate phases, each with a scale of 0-100% done.

There was a separate phase for devices, and another one for miscellaneous stuff.

It finally made me log on to my Microsoft account and sent me a 2-step verification code (which can be on a smart phone or on another computer by email). 

It hung in an “almost ready” mode for a long time before finally coming up.

The computer was very slow for a while.  It took about 20 minutes for sound to work.  Shockwave didn’t work for about 10 minutes, so YouTube and most videos did not. 

Windows Explorer was tricky.  Cameras took a long time to be recognized even after the drivers had reloaded.  Finally, if you clicked on a message that popped up, the device would show up in Windows Explorer.

Windows Explorer was slow to copy files.

The original Microsoft Word templates seem to be missing. 
We’ll see what happens with the first restart.  

Update: Later.

I tried a cold boot.

Well, it's a NoGo.  The Toshiba banner comes up, and the screen goes blank,  The little circle spins, and curiously the Internet access bars appear at the lower left, and nothing else

I will have to take this to BestBuy and Geek Squad immediately tomorrow morning to resolve.  I seems to have something to do with fast boot.  I hope this is something simple.

Update: Aug. 9

Geek Squad says the mother board died and the computer has to be sent to Toshiba in Kentucky.  Why would an update fry the motheboard?

There had been a couple other problems -- the trackpad had gotten jerky, and the fan was seen to be failing.  It might have overheated during the update process. 

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Personality test software is getting sophisticated, but may lead to overly conforming workforces

Steven Pearlstein has an interesting report in the Business section of the Washington Post on Aug. 3, “People Analytics: ‘Moneyball’ for human resources”, link here. The article title of course invokes the film about baseball with Brad Pitt.

Companies are going back to using tests even more than before, and interviewing fewer people face to face.  Oddly, for contracting jobs in IT, I still found that the final interview with a client was usually by (land-line) phone.    
Personality tests used to be popular even in the 1950s. Starting about 2001, with the 9-11 recession, some companies started using true-false personality tests.  ATT would disqualify someone from re-applying for six months (for a call center job) if the person “failed” the 370-question test.  The TSA used the same personality test.
Pearlstein believes that overuse of “people analytics” can result in an overly homogenous or conforming workforce, one that “preaches to the choir” and becomes insular, setting a company up for eventual competitive decline.

Still, there were interesting observations.  People Analytics 2.0  (link for conference site   the basic domain name doesn’t work!) is “dynamic” and learns from its own experience in an AI mode.  Evolv has debunked some common misperceptions (that felons are risky, or that IQ tests and job hopping matter;  on the other hand long commutes do matter, as well as curiosity at home in computer use.  Evolv found that people who installed Chrome or Firefox at home did better at work than those who relied on factory installed IE or Safari.  “Creativity” mattered in sales jobs (and odd paradox, since you are selling somebody else’s agenda or product) but personal rapport mattered more in call centers.  Pegged Software found that leadership in community or volunteer organizations matters for acute care nurses but not for nursing home workers.  

Testing companies also reported that in IT, evaluation of open-source code written by a candidate, or of performance in video games can be predictive of job success.  I never got into those areas.