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    Empire in Decline

    The USA is the heart of the English-speaking world, and probably the flagship of modern democracies. Countries like Australia and the UK have derived indirect benefit from the USA's very existence. But the future has looked bleak for the last decade or two. The extent of the riots, following on...
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    DIY Blockchain

    We sell a service that is metered, with a running balance currently stored on a prepaid Smartcard. The balance gets debited as you use the service, until it is exhausted and you need to buy a new card. It's reasonably secure, but we have to burn a balance onto the cards and ship them around the...
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    Lenovo P43s throttling like crazy

    CPU is Intel i7-8565U (4-core 8-thread 1.8-4.6GHz 8MB cache), which seems to be one of Intel's 'fake' 15W CPUs. That is, they *claim* 15W TDP but in practise these things easily pull 30W (according to CPU ID HWMonitor) - and that's with massive thermal throttling. The icing on the cake is that...
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    Prison Break

    This is a real life puzzle that I'm trying to get my head around. In a prison, communications with the outside world such as internet access are generally prohibited or tightly controlled. Consequently, PCs may have any wireless adapter removed and USB ports disabled or severely limited. We...
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    Tele conferencing

    Either just audio or full video. I lived with Skype for Business for four years; I have no desire to repeat this. What other products do people recommend or hate? Sharing (presenting) a screen is really helpful, but I'm having trouble working out which products even do this.
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    Australian Fires

    There's currently 80 or 90 wildfires in my state in Australia, as well as a bunch in the next state. Places that have never been under threat in 100 years have been destroyed. My brother in law was evacuated earlier from the Sunshine Coast suburb that this video is about, which was posted at ten...
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    Non-subscription MS Office blocks all legacy Windows

    Everyone probably already knows this, but for the non-365 versions of Office, eg Home and Business, Microsoft has blocked every legacy version of Windows and requires Windows 10. So no Windows 7, 8, Server 2008 R2, Server 2012, etc, and probably Server 2016. It's got absolutely nothing to do...
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    Server Essentials 2019 and RDS

    Microsoft has stripped almost everything out of the 2019 edition of their entry-level Essentials variant of Windows Server. Including RDS (Remote Desktop / Terminal Services). You can't even add CALs so that a couple of users can run remote sessions that are hosted on the server. The only...
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    Windows 10 activation hardware changes

    Does anyone know what the state of play is for this, particularly if Windows 10 is an upgrade from Windows 7? My impression is that you need to register the installation with Microsoft first, before changing either motherboard or boot drive. But some people say that if it's a 'digital' license...
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    HDMI and 4K

    It's pretty clear that first TVs, and now monitors, are standardizing on the 4K format, even though it's pointless or even a negative for >90% of cases. You can see that almost nothing else will be available in a couple of years time. TVs use the HDMI connector and most PCs also have an HDMI...
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    Huawei P30 Pro

    One of my daughters and her partner just signed up for these, complete with the "Breathing Crystal" finish. Came with cordless ear buds but no protective case. I've recommended a clear Spigen for her, but not sure what will fully protect her partner's - he works with cement. Crazy 10x zoom...
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    Ancient PC with Windows 98

    I was waiting at a workshop the other day and noticed an old monitor with "Please insert a disk into drive A:". I explained to the owner what the message meant. He told me that he thought the PC was running Windows 98 - as originally supplied. Further investigation revealed an ancient...
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    Ryzen

    Ryzen 2 appears to be completely competitive with current products from Intel. I suspect the Intel advantage in Passmark single-core scores is not real, because it doesn't seem to be corroborated by any other benchmarking. There is a newer alternative to Passmark.com called UserBenchmark.com...
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    Mid-range phone

    Although inspired by Tannin's efforts to find a high-endurance phone with a large screen for US$250, I think I need something a little more upmarket. My wife and I currently have Samsung Note 4 phones. There are 3 main problems, compared to how they were when new: 1. Responsiveness is often...
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    Email in China

    I think a couple of people here have spent some time in China, so I'm hoping for some insight. In most situations, The Great Firewall of China now blocks email hosted by Google (eg Gmail). We still have some service with a roaming phone, but imap.googlemail.com etc are no longer functional. Of...
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    Keyboard

    I seem to have hit the wall in trying to find a replacement keyboard for myself. I want another backlit keyboard. At night, we usually use that particular computer without additional lighting in the same room. Tired eyes and all that. Unfortunately, almost all backlit keyboards are...
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    Budget Servers

    I'm looking for a couple of budget servers, intended for smallish databases and files. First up, I can't see any wonderful bargains from Dell, HP or Lenovo, and local support is critical. So unless someone can suggest something, they will have to be built from off-the-shelf parts. Preferably...
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    Cloning a failing drive

    We have a drive that is dying but still works. Already seen a no-drive-found error or similar after having to reboot the PC. Unfortunately, it's a single disk setup and I really would prefer to salvage the Windows 7 installation with its installed apps in particular. Much of the drive is taken...
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    VPN connects but no network

    I'm trying to connect to a corporate VPN endpoint, to allow remote access to intranet apps, etc. It's a M$ PPTP VPN. I seem to have the problem at my home. A colleague tested my credentials at his home (with a Windows 10 laptop) and had no issues. I have tried two completely different Windows 7...
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    Pebble is no more

    Many of you probably already know this, but Pebble, the idiosyncratic smart watch maker, has folded. Their IP has been bought by Fitbit, but there is no prospect of continued manufacturing. Pebble was one of the great innovators in smart watch design, although they never adopted a touchscreen...
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    How to make VMs suck less

    Hey, I don't know. That's why I started this thread. OK, seriously, how do people get half-decent disk I/O in a VM? I see published benchmarks where someone claims to get 99.99% of bare metal performance in their dedicated hypervisor (ESXi) VM. In real life, I think 40% of bare metal is as...
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    Windows 7 share slow

    We use a spare Windows 7 Pro box as a small workgroup server, with a couple of file shares and a couple of database server processes (although we're typically only using one at a time). Some time in the last few weeks, it's become frustratingly slow to respond. And there are weird issues when...
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    Bent Pins

    Had a bit of a shock today - returned an MSI Mini-ITX motherboard that wouldn't boot with RAM in slot 1 of 2. Supplier popped off the CPU cooler and removed the CPU, to reveal TWO BENT PINS!!! The thing is, they were several millimeters apart and nowhere near any edge. HTF can you bend 2...
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    GTX1060 vs RX480

    So within a couple of weeks of each other, AMD releases a strong midrange graphics card that uses about half the power of its previous generation, while NVidia releases a strong midrange card that matches what used to be a premium card - the GTX980. Reviews suggest that the Nvidia GTX1060 is...
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    question Defense against Ransomware

    I'm tired of being hectored about not clicking on links in emails that may be fake. It's a reaction to repeated ransomware infestations. Surely it's possible to lock down an email client (Outlook), a mail server (Exchange) and file shares so that someone can't shut down a company with just an...
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    Tesla doomed

    Sounds entirely credible to me: Tesla will get trampled by the mass market
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    Remote control of Vista Home Premium

    I'm trying to set something up at a location remote from me. Turns out one of the target platforms is running Vista Home Premium. This is bad, because I need to install and configure stuff on it, but of course there is no Remote Desktop. The hacks to make RDP work on Vista Home seem to be no...
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    Google Page Rank and AdWords

    The owner of a small furniture manufacturing/importing business has asked me why his web inquiries have stopped. After looking at AdWords, I assume he and millions of other small businesses are screwed. In a web search for lounge furniture in this city, he came in on the third page. The first...
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    Jeep QA (or what Coug did next)

    I know this video is 10 minutes long, but it gets better as it goes. It also helps if the song used to promote Chrysler Jeep in your country was "Don't hold back" by The Potbelleez.
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    Cheapish Speakers

    I'm looking for some speakers (and amplifier) under about US$400 to enhance the sound of a couple of TVs. I've looked at secondhand home theater systems, but people seem to offload those when something is broken or they're just crap. New, everything under $1000 appears to be crap, but it might...
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    Can't convert Win2k to VM

    Trying to convert an ancient Win2k system to VMWare VM (workstation). The VMWare 5.5.3 Converter tool says: "Fatal error occurred. The most common reason for this is loss of network connection." I've tried specifying the target as both a local USB drive and a shared drive on another PC, to no...
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    CCTV

    This may not be practical, but ... I'd like to get an HD camera with some way to achieve a 16:9 aspect ratio and view the capture on either a 16:9 monitor or TV about 5 meters away. Picture quality is my main criteria and I'm only concerned with daylight illumination. Icing on the cake would...
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    Winsxs

    I've known about Winsxs bloat for years, but assumed there would ultimately be a solution. I'm looking at a Windows 7 PC deployed about 3 years ago where Windows takes up about 24GB of storage, and more than 14GB of that is in Winsxs. I ran Disk Cleanup with the System files option, and it...
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    Explorer unable to start (0xc0000022)

    Got lumbered with someone's 3-year-old PC that was running slowly. Removed the usual crapware, then attempted to uninstall a well-out-of-date AVG 2012 (only found out afterwards that this didn't happen properly). Ran a ScanDisk before checking fragmentation, which complained about and 'fixed'...
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    Hamachi

    It's ages since I used this service. The scenario is that I can no longer establish a VPN tunnel to a (very) remote client - I suspect the router that lives behind the DSL modem is on its last legs (8 or 9 years old). Trying to configure a replacement over the phone hasn't gone well, so I sent...
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    Yoga Tablet

    It's probably just me, but this simple piece of engineering might change the game. Lenovo Yoga Tablet. For the first time, I'm considering buying one. I think they're right, giving you something to hold the weighty device with is almost as useful as the built-in stand(s).
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    Tougher than Cougtek

    Mark "Chopper" Read died. Basically from Hepatitis C contracted while in prison, possibly from a blood-stained razor. They made a film about him, called "Chopper". He was a serious psychopath, claiming to have been involved in 19 murders. No-one seems to have disputed this, probably because the...
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    Recover corrupt flash drive

    I need to do a favour for someone. They have managed to store critical records on a USB flash drive, which is now reported as corrupt - their theory is that it's because they didn't 'stop' the drive before unplugging it. I haven't attempted this in many years. Based on experience, what...
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    Mail order clothing

    I'm looking at US mail order clothing firms, initially to buy wool trousers - which are proving problematic to source here in my somewhat stout sizing. ;) International shipping is a must. So far, I've found L.L.Bean and J.Crew. But I don't know anything at all about the quality of their...
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    ZFS on RAID 5 - WTF?

    Met a guy planning to buy a $500 LSI controller so he could get decent write performance out of ZFS running on RAID 5 under Free BSD. Looks like he has space for 6 drives but currently only 3 or 4. WTF? I thought ZFS already enabled error correction on a random collection of disks, but I admit...
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    Upgrade Lenovo laptop

    A client has a Lenovo X300, which comes with a 60GB SSD as standard. Unfortunately, that storage capacity is just too small these days. I seem to recall that there are pitfalls in upgrading a Lenovo laptop, in that the BIOS will only recognize certain drives. What is the best choice of SSD to...
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    BSOD - Directory Services could not start

    Getting this on a Windows Server 2008 R2 box set up to be a PDC. It has a separate boot drive and the domain files are stored on a 4-drive RAID-5. The RAID-5 dropped a drive and apparently went to critical status after the drives were removed for testing. On boot it throws BSOD C00002E2...
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    Bog standard motherboard

    Is it just me, or has it become harder to find some earlier discussions? Anyway, what with Intel leaving the market, I'm wondering what we're supposed to use as a microATX motherboard. To my eye, there is almost no difference between B75 (single 6Gbps SATA + parallel port), H77 (dual 6Gbps...
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    Any way to repair Windows 7?

    I have a system that crashes with BSOD while loading drivers(?), even in Safe Mode. Is there any way to get around M$ bastardry that stops you booting from a CD and 'upgrading' to effect a repair? SFC /scannow says there is a pending repair or some such drivel.
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    Graphics cards $200-$300

    I can see AMD 7850, Nvidia GTX660, AMD 7870 and NVidia GTX660 Ti. Here are my observations so far: GTX660 costs more than 7850 but doesn't add much performance. 7870 adds noticeable speed for only $30-40 over 7850. GTX660 Ti can be much faster than 7870 in certain games, but generally isn't...
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    Logitech SetPoint on Windows 8

    Logitech T650 touchpad was a bit flaky under Windows XP, so set up a new boot drive with Windows 8 Home. The most basic touchpad operations (moving the cursor) work natively with Win XP, Win 7 or Win8, but without SetPoint, it's something of a boat anchor. Unfortunately, the latest 64-bit (or...
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    Computer Speakers 2012

    I'm looking for a decent 2.1 system (or a sensational 2.0 system with really good bass :)). It's for my daughter; she's fussy but hates wasting money. Apart from music, she watches a lot of movies and obscure TV shows. I'm thinking either Corsair SP2500 (~$230 here) or Logitech Z523 / Z623...
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    Corsair SSD simultaneous failure

    My PC with a Corsair Force 60GB SSD screwed up today; first with internet access problems, then losing the plot while restarting Windows - so it currently can't start Windows, even in Safe Mode. And then I got a call from a client with a Force 120GB SSD: with the same problem of going out to...
  49. T

    Plumbing

    I needed a place to park this truly fascinating link about water saving toilets: The low flush toilet controversy and MaP toilet testing I recommend watching the video. No, seriously.
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    Building

    Although Ddrueding and others have offered insights into their dwelling construction escapades, I thought a thread might be interesting to swap stories. In particular, I'm intrigued by the different building methods and terminology between different countries. My immediate inspiration is the...
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