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Jon Porobil (Jon Eric)
3,029 followers -
Computer nerd by day, music nerd by night
Computer nerd by day, music nerd by night

3,029 followers
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The hotel where I'm staying has a CD player alarm clock, so of course I loaded up a copy of my latest CD for someone to find later.

I was kind of hoping that I'd find some other indie musician's disc in there when I opened it to put mine in.
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It's been a rough few weeks for me, with regard to technology.

I have two computers, a desktop I built back in 2010 and a laptop I inherited from a job that laid me off in 2013. I also have a smartphone (Nexus 6p, about a year old), and a Nintendo Switch that I got on launch day four months ago.

Desktop

I use the desktop for music recording and gaming, mostly. Sometimes I log into it to type up long emails, pay bills, and (the last time I was job-hunting) to fill out applications. When I'm working a weekend shift from home, I use it to watch Netflix between calls. I don't push it too hard. A few months ago, it rebooted unexpectedly on me. I shrugged it off. A few weeks ago, it happened again, twice in one day. I checked the logs, but there was no reference to it having shut down at all. I installed a ton of Windows updates, ran MalwareBytes, and did a few other general PC-tuning things.

It seemed a little better for a few days, then came back with a vengeance, rebooting itself six times in one day, and often not staying up for more than 10 minutes. I tried booting in safe mode and running the malware scan again, but it rebooted in the middle of the scan. I tried checking the BIOS settings, and it rebooted from BIOS. That sealed the diagnosis: My power supply unit is failing.

I checked online for comparable PSUs, and they're in the range of about $100 to $180. My computer is seven years old. It's on its second set of RAM, second video card, and second motherboard. It's had a nice run, but I've decided that it ends here. I could chase problems and throw money at them forever, but eventually it's time to move on to the next build. I'm kicking myself for not saving up in advance, but there's no use crying over spilled oil. I'll be saving money for the next 6-10 months while I build the replacement.

Laptop

In 2013, I took a work-from-home position from a company that provided me with a laptop for work. Four months later, they went out of business. The CEO told me I could keep the laptop as sort of a consolation prize, provided I formatted the hard drive first. It's not a great laptop; there are several things about it that drive me crazy, but it was a free computer and I haven't been able to afford (or justify the cost of) a new laptop since then, so I've made it work. I mainly use it to record piano parts, because it's not feasible to move my desktop down to where my piano is, nor to move the piano up to where my desktop computer is.

After the power supply unit in my desktop gave out, I started trying to use the laptop as my primary, but I started noticing some strange behavior: it had trouble installing the driver for an XBox controller, some games wouldn't launch on Steam, and browser tabs took forever to open and close. I figured out, after a while, that Windows Update hadn't downloaded or installed an update in over a year. I tried to check for updates, but it wouldn't find any updates.

I used it to stream Twitch this weekend, and it worked okay for that, but I still don't have any idea what's going wrong or how to fix it.

Switch

A couple of weeks ago, after getting back from visiting my in-laws in Ohio, I noticed that the Switch would not allow me to play in hand-held mode. I did some clicking and unclicking, and determined that the real problem was that the left charging rail wasn't connecting anymore. I have two pairs of Joy-Con, and neither left controller was recognized when connected. I Googled the problem, and tried all the suggestions I found, but nothing worked. So I had to call Nintendo support.

They agreed to accept the system for a repair. The tech asked me to also ship both left Joy-Con. I thought this was stupid, because troubleshooting had clearly ruled those out as the problem unit, but I know that they could refuse service and charge me for reshipping costs, so I grumbled a bit, but packed them.

It was tough going almost two weeks without my Nintendo, but they did eventually shipped it back to me. When the package arrived, it had the wrong Joy-Con in it! So now I've got one complete pair, and one pair of two rights. So I've been on and off the phone with Nintendo support, and I've been escalated to two managers trying to rectify this. At first, they said I'd have to send the one I received back and wait another 7-10 days for the controller. So I asked whether they could do anything to speed this up, since it was their goof.

The new proposal: They "overnight" me a replacement left Joy-Con (it actually took three days, but I guess they get a pass because two of those three days were a Sunday and a holiday), charging me a $50 deposit, which would be refunded when I return the one they wrongly sent.

The replacement arrived today, but I don't have a shipping label for the one I need to send back, so I called them again. Got escalated to a manager again. The manager said "We normally don't pay for shipping in cases like this, the customer is responsible for the cost of shipping items back to us." I pushed back, saying I refuse to pay to cover for their mistake. He agreed, since this was a "special case," to have a shipping label generated, but he said it would take another 2-3 business days before I'd get it. Meanwhile, they have my money.

Phone

I was trying to take a picture of my toddler, then he bolted into the street, so I chased after him. I dropped my phone in the process, and while trying to catch it, I accidentally swatted it downward, spiking it even harder onto the pavement than it would have hit if it had just fallen normally. The screen fracture takes up about 20% of the surface area, concentrated in the top-right corner.

I called a local repair shop for an estimate, and they told me the screen is connected to the LCD display, and you can't replace one without the other. $250. Ugh, not worth it. I'm not crazy about any of the other phones on the market right now, and can't really afford a replacement right now anyway, so I guess I'm sticking with the broken screen for a while.

All of that happened in the span of about 2-3 weeks. As a bonus, I smashed my finger underneath the desktop tower at one point (thankfully not the nerve damage finger) and dropped a monitor on my toe while I was lugging the machine back up.

I really hope this run of bad tech luck is over.

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My work desk.

I might be a bit hyped after this E3.
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When you work three blocks from where the Bill Cosby trial is taking place...
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If you're on the fence about the new Mystery Science Theater 3000, see if this doesn't convince you to check it out.

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I watched Star Trek: Generations the other day, and I've had this stuck in my head ever since.

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Hey Austin - good to visit again! First meal back in town was Torchy's, obviously.
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We took the Switch with us on an airplane yesterday. My stepdaughter and I played Snipperclips for a bit while her mom watched the baby, then we traded kids. Here's my wife and stepdaughter playing co-op Super Bomberman R. On an airplane!

The battery lasted the whole flight and still had about 20% left when we landed. Then we hooked the dock up to the hotel TV. I'm extremely impressed with how well this console travels and how well it works as a portable.
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Day three of bringing my Nintendo Switch into the office to play during breaks and lunch.

I played the last two stages of Shovel Knight on the bus on the way here, and watched the ending at my desk before clocking in. I also started Specter Knight's campaign, but didn't get very far.

During my lunch break, I set up in the break room and played Zelda for a while. I'm still pretty early in the game, but I decided on a whim to sneak into Hyrule Castle and see if I can get to Ganon (the devs said this was possible). Got my butt kicked a few times by the Guardians.

A coworker sat down at the table and watched me play for a bit, asking questions about the Switch and the games. Then, this happened:

"Did you get any other games?"

"Oh, yeah, check it out." I press the home button and show off my list.

He sees Fast RMX on the list. "How's that one? I heard it's fun."

"Oh yeah, you want to play?" I hand him half the joy-con I'm using.

What a delight to see that look on his face as the idea catches up with him that I could just do that, on a whim. It only took a few seconds to shut down Zelda, switch controller modes, and start up Fast RMX, and then we were in split-screen local mode.

This is the promise of the Switch, from the moment it was first announced in that trailer back in November, now fulfilled. It put a huge grin on my face to be able to share it with a friend, at a moment's notice. Not that I wasn't looking forward to Zelda, but it was the possibility of moments like that which truly sold me on this system and got me excited about it. Pure joy.

Those Guardians are jerks, though. Oof.

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Happy Monday! The Nintendo Switch parental controls app has a nice little summary of my video game hangover.
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