Time for Rebuilding

Well, there's nothing like research.

Having determined that DDR5 is going to carry a substantial price premium over DDR4 memory for at least a year -- assuming that you can *find* it -- and that the observed performance benefits from having it are sharply limited; and having determined by observation that the available motherboards tend to only have Thunderbolt available without an add-in card if you get a really expensive motherboard with all of the possible bells and whistles, but that an add-in card is only a bit over $100; I decided to pull the trigger and I have ordered all of the parts that I need to build a new Alder Lake Thunderbolt-capable computer for the studio.

Normally, I would pick up the parts from Newegg or Micro Center, but the promo code I got for Newegg was restricted and they were charging more for most of the parts than Amazon does, while I can get a 5% rebate on my Amazon purchases. Micro Center, meanwhile, had almost nothing I needed in stock, but had Alder Lake CPUs in quantity for substantially cheaper than anyone else, probably because you can't sell them if you have nothing but DDR5 motherboards to install them on in the current environment.

That simplified a lot of decisions. Most of the parts were accumulated from Amazon orders and should be here in a few days, while I drove down to Micro Center to pick up the CPU and OS (because I just get itchy when I order an OS from Amazon, as there are so many questionable suppliers that are *probably* just fine. Probably.).

And I've decided to try to run the system on Intel Integrated Graphics, which should run a dual monitor system for me. We'll see how that goes, but I've got a Display Port and an HDMI output on the back of the motherboard, which matches up nicely with what's available on my existing monitors. Cables have been ordered, because who keeps extra 15 foot cables around?

We'll see how this goes.

Meanwhile, I went down to the studio to fire up Cubase and look at the status of the "Crosstime Bus" project. I had opened a few Cubase files hunting for the drum tracks that I'd recorded with Sally some years ago and hadn't found them. It turns out that I had just opened the wrong files, because we hadn't actually *finished* recording a full set of drum tracks and had planned to pick it up at some future date.

You cannot imagine how relieved I was to find those tracks. :) (And that I had not imagined that recording session...)

So it will be time to get back to work on this.

And other things.

Driven Wild

The studio computer continues to misbehave in various ways. When I fired up Cubase today, I got a lot of nasty, blocky video, despite having cleaned up the Nvidia drivers earlier. I checked the cable connections, which did something to improve the blockiness, but then Cubase crashed out while playing audio, which wasn't encouraging. I set Cubase to run as an administrator, after which I was able to run without crashing (at least once), but something is just not right.

Later, in Google Chrome, the screen replotting became very confused, refusing to refresh some parts of the screen when I changed browser tabs. There's a lot of video badness going on right now, which makes me suspect that the recent Windows update isn't agreeing with my aged video card. I'm hoping that a fix shows up.


Some Old Doggerel

I recall having mangled a CSN tune many years ago on the way to Contraption. Like that convention, the particular co-worker whose code I was digging through and sorting out is also gone.

Ah, well.

When the project's months behind,
You're debugging, know what you'll find.
There's some code, not writ by you
And you're wondering just what it will do.
And when that code goes up in flame,
There's a system crash when you type your name,
And you're looking round for someone to blame,
Buddy, blame the guy who's gone.
Blame the guy who's gone.

Cleaning Up

One of my XML processing routines showed up with a glitch when presented with some unexpected data (what is all that whitespace doing there?). Now the good news is that confronted with this, it didn't run wild, it just issued an error message, which is what *should* happen when you find constructs that you don't expect. The programmer who was working with it pinged me this morning and by this evening I had patched it and checked in the fix so that he can get back to work.

Meanwhile, back at home, Gretchen had ordered a ginormous beanbag chair for the kids which arrived on the porch today. I hauled it in, unpacked the chair, and used the big box to contain all of the packing cardboard from Julie's new bed, which has now been put out for recycling tomorrow. I am hoping that they actually take it and the large box full of styrofoam and other packing material that is sitting next to the garbage on the other side of the driveway and which should depart with the trash half of the collection.

The living room no longer looks like boxes exploded all over it, which is good.

More cleaning will occur this weekend, but this is a good down payment.

Wiring It Up

So Julie is trying to figure out how to watch videos on her phone as she falls asleep in her bed while still making sure that the phone has charge in the morning. This is, in theory, simple. You just have to make sure that the phone is plugged in and charging.

This afternoon, Julie told me that the phone was not charging and asked me to take a look at it.

The phone was plugged into a USB cable, which was plugged into a charging transformer, which was plugged into an extension cord, which was plugged into the wall. Well, that's certainly a lot of potential failure points.

The problem is that all of the phones in the house now take USB-C cables, which means that those are in short supply on the ground. I'm not sure that I have a spare upstairs. I'm not sure that there's a "spare" downstairs. I *did*, however, have a spare charging transformer, so I swapped it in and discovered that it did not improve the situation, even when I plugged it directly into a different wall outlet. On the other hand, this was a charging transformer for an older model of Kindle, so it might not have had enough oomph to make the phone happy.

I brought the phone into the office and plugged into the sacred-to-Dad USB-C cable that is kept plugged into the power strip on my desk so that I can charge up my phone when needed. The phone greedily sucked up the electrons. This meant that I had now proved that the phone would accept charge, which wasn't yet proven.

The most likely case was that the USB-C cable that Julie had been using had a short. When I went down for dinner, I liberated a known-working cord from the charging brick downstairs, while Gretchen ordered new USB-C cables so that we could replace it. I brought the cord back upstairs when it was time to be moving toward bed, plugged it in, and watched as the phone failed to take charge.

Right. Take the phone, cord, and transformer to an outlet in the hall, plug directly into the wall, and verify that this combination works. So there must be a problem either with the outlet in the room or the extension cord.

Plug the phone, cord, and transformer into the other half of the outlet in Julie's room. The phone is *still* getting charge. Huh.

It's about this time that I take a close look at the extension cord and discover that it is actually *two* extension cords daisy chained together, because apparently length is important. Remove the second cord from the daisy chain and plug in the rest of the assemblage.

The phone is now getting charged.

I report this to Gretchen who replies, "Maybe that's why the Christmas lights in the dining room never came on this year." It seems that Julie scavenged the second extension cord from the dining room where it had been used to plug in the Christmas lights that had never actually come on this year, despite a limited investigation, although we discovered when we finally took them down that they worked when plugged directly into a socket.

This falls into the category of Things It Would Have Been Good To Know Earlier.

On the other hand, I think that particular extension cord will be going out with tomorrow's trash.


Planning Ahead

We had the meeting with the counselors today to try to figure out what Julie should be taking in her freshman year of high school. It looks like we need to make one small tweak to the results, but things look promising.

Picture This

I took a load of laundry to the basement today and figured I would spend a bit of time in the studio today looking at some Cubase features and seeing if I could learn a few things. I learned a few things, but they weren't what I intended to learn.

The video on the studio computer has been a little glitchy in the Chrome browser lately, for reasons that I don't understand, but it's dropping boxes of flashing text onto the wrong spot on the screen. This is not good. After staring at this for a bit, I decided that maybe I should try updating the video drivers. So I went to the Nvidia site and let it download the GeForce Experience app and install it. I also pulled down the latest Windows 10 update in case that was the problem. And then I fired up Cubase.

The screen was now a complete mess (I mean, garbage and bad vector graphics everywhere) and the system crashed, eventually blue screening. This was followed by Windows doing the recovery dance, checking the hard drive, failing a boot, and eventually getting its act back together.

Off to a Google search which suggested that I needed to make sure that I had the latest Cubase version installed (I was one minor -- bug-fix level -- release behind) and that I should uninstall all of the Nvidea software and reinstall *just* the video driver. Ok, I could do that.

Well, no, I couldn't. The Cubase update install crashed the machine again.

So I made sure that the audio interface was turned off, rebooted, and started uninstalling Nvidea software. A couple of reboots later, it was all gone and I was looking at a VGA-sized screen. Then I installed the latest video driver (from 2018). And then I installed the Cubase point release and fired it up, loading the giant-sized demo project.

Which played correctly with no audio or video glitches.

Further examination indicates that the video card in this machine is an Nvidea GTX 560 TI, which originally started shipping in 2011. I guess that explains why driver releases are few and far between now.

I am really starting to believe that the current studio computer is aging out rapidly.

The video card, however, is not a part that I really wanted to replace in a new build.


Post-Assembly Hangover

The newly assembled bed is a big success, but we are collectively suffering from a post-assembly hangover. There is a tremendous amount of packing debris scattered around the living room that needs to be collected and prepared for next week's trash pickup. Unfortunately, since that hasn't yet become urgent, getting it done is a slow process.

I think we'll get it all cleaned up tomorrow. :)

New Bed!

The fellow who wanted the old bunk bed came and picked it up today, along with his son, so I didn't have to do a lot of lifting. The bed came apart fairly easily into five pieces (not counting the trundle) and they got it home in two trips.

Sam and Bonnie came over and helped us put the new bed together. It is now assembled and waiting for sheets.

And then we will clean up the packaging mess tomorrow. :)


Made some progress at work today. Made some progress at home too, as K took the drawers from the bunk bed downstairs today, which will make unshipping the assembly tomorrow easier.

It *does* mean I need to get up early tomorrow, but I should survive that. :)