March 17th, 2016

Technology Update

We have two desktop computers in the bedroom for Gretchen, Katie, and Julie to use. The computer Gretchen generally uses is an increasingly cranky old Acer mini-tower that is running Windows Vista, while the other computer is a slightly newer Acer slimline machine running Windows 7 that has already had to be rolled back from Windows 10 to Windows 7, because there are no drivers for Windows 10 that will allow Minecraft to run on the Intel integrated video chipset. Meanwhile, Google Chrome is giving Gretchen dire warnings about their dropping support for Vista and -- although I could probably find an unused Windows 7 upgrade around the house here -- there is no reason to believe that it would fare any better with a Windows 10 load than the newer machine.

Given that Katie and Julie use both machines, I am unhappy with the idea of being in a position where security updates are about to be few and far between. I've contemplated trying to update the aged boxes so that I could upgrade them to Windows 10 and have concluded that I could spend a lot of time and money on this project. And the existing machines are five or six years old anyway and were not state of the art when I got them.

So it's time to buy new computers. Happily, I've found an Asus mini-tower that will do the job nicely and is arguably faster and better than my machine in the office. Although the form factor is a little bigger than Gretchen had hoped for -- she'd wanted to find slimlines -- these machines are faster than the similarly priced slimlines, likely easier to maintain, and have a VGA output that the newer slimlines lack, which means that I can plug them into the existing monitors without a lot of grief or adapters. And they have built-in Wi-fi connectivity, allowing me to dispense with the fragile dongles that we're using now.

While George Washington's computer will -- with luck! -- continue running for a while longer, the rest of the family is getting an upgrade. :)


So I was out to lunch when Gretchen called to let me know that the power had dropped briefly and that when it came back up, the Internet connection was down. That proved to still be the case when I got back, so I went down to the basement and tried to power up the cable modem, which was sincerely off.

No power to the modem. And no power to the power strip either.

Unplug the power strips from the outlet, reset the GFCI switch, plug the power strips back in. Eureka! Power up the modem.

Now, let's check connectivity once everything's fired up. ESPN, yes. LiveJournal and Google, no.

Ok, clear the DNS cache on the studio computer.

And now everything works here again.

Back upstairs to the office to get everything working there.