[sticky entry] Sticky: Adding on DW/About Me

May. 3rd, 2016 04:57 am
marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

So in the last few weeks (perhaps more like months), a majority of the people on my Reading List have...

fled the premises, or else have... )
marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

My replacement cable's still on the way. It was, according to my tracking info, in town yesterday but still hasn't made it to the house (it missed yesterday's pickup) but in the meantime, I took the screen off my laptop last night and found a pretty severe kink in the original cable, under the left hinge. When I put a little pressure on the kink I could feel it strain, like it was fighting me as I tried to straighten it.

When I got done tightening everything as much as I could and put it all back together and restarted, lo and behold, the vertical lines were gone (and almost 24 hours later, are still gone). But the red where there should be black and teal artifacting all over is still very much present.

I'm feeling hopeful that I've finally narrowed the issue down, that it's almost surely not the graphics, and that if a new cable doesn't fix it, then a new screen probably will. Yay.

ETA, some hours later...

Requiem For A Laptop

[poetry I won't be writing goes here]

All of my ETAs just suck lately, don't they? Mercury's in a weird retrograde pattern, I hear.

The video cable was in tonight's mail but made no difference. Luckily a friend had a working spare screen I knew would work in ASAP, so they brought it by not long after I put in - and took out - the new cable. Together we took the old screen off and put the new screen on. I'm not gonna lie, there are so many tiny little screws involved in this process that, including putting the old screen back on at the end, it took about an hour. Luckily it's one of my better vitamin deficiency days so I didn't need my glasses to see all these little fuckers. Normally I would.

Once we had the other screen in solid and tight, we turned ASAP back on. This was the big moment. The screen was no longer red but the normal black upon boot-up, Windows startup and the Windows lock screen. And the sign-in screen - it looked as normal as could be. "Sign in," my friend said, seeming kind of excited at my wide-eyed amazement.

I paused for a second, staring at it, before saying, "Nope, I'm shutting her down. It's done." Why? he wanted to know. "Because she's still got that teal artifacting all over the place. Check this out," I said, bringing him around to look at all the spots I could see teal where the screen, of course, should've been white. The sign-in text box. The battery level icon. The white clouds in the lock screen background picture.

As I had put the old video cable back in before attaching the screen provided to me, I can't say for sure if the damned laptop needed both the new cable and the other screen attached at once to lick the problem completely, and I didn't feel like taking it apart a third time while my friend waited to find out, but as the cable by itself did not make a damn bit of difference, I'll call this at "I doubt it".

So I've got a laptop good enough for, say, your eight-year old to do their homework on if they're not terribly picky about tons of moving red blotches and solid red backgrounds where there should be black on the screen and little teal artifacts and lines running all over it whereever it should be white, grey, or any lighter color or shade. Other than that, it's a well-running paperweight. I mean, I don't know what else to say.

I destroyed the laptop lid and touchpad bezel in the sticker frenzy that swept over me not long after acquiring it - which went something like this but did not come out as glittery, it was more flowers and owls - which is why I probably won't sell it as a laptop, but might part it out, instead. The stickers have mostly pulled off around the touchpad and the remaining finish is three to five shades lighter where they've given up. The top mostly has its stickers but a few have been lost - much to the same effect.

If anyone on my reading list is looking for parts for an older HP ProBook I'll be happy to give a rundown of specs/prices by PM (if you are interested in acquiring it whole, upon request I'll give a complete visual tour, by email, of how bad the screen is. The best I can tell anyone is "the problem's sort of intermittent; you won't see red on every screen or web page - some pages will almost look normal - but most will have some artifacting, no matter how good they might look, otherwise". I have tons of pictures, taken with my smartphone. You might need sunglasses for some of the redder parts!).

marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

ETA: Mostly a false alarm. While this really did happen, I can't make it happen again. More-informative-than-this ETAs are at the end of this post.

If there's no Internet connection Cortana does not do a thing. She won't open a command prompt, find a file, open an app or a folder or even run the command rstrui (which was how I discovered the issue!).

Does Cortana really need an Internet connection to find an app or run a command or open a folder or find my copy of CCleaner? No, she doesn't. She needs an Internet connection to send back what I type into her search box to Microsoft's servers.

I already had Cortana's Notebook, tips and suggestions and web searches disabled when this happened so I can rule out anything but Microsoft sends back what you type in - unless they can't because you're offline, then they simply disable Cortana altogether. This is no doubt by design. If you already have Cortana's web search disabled then they don't need an Internet connection for you to be able to type in 'cmd'. They simply want one.

I guess them disabling Cortana if I go offline keeps me from doing all the superseekret searches I like to do for, you know, "cmd", "rstrui" and yeah, even the filthy "regedit" (I know, I know, *shhhh*...) that they won't get to record unless I have a connection available for them to zip it right back to their servers with.

ETA1, next night: OK, so I made sort of a cart blanche assumption before I wrote this that with the internet connection disabled, Cortana simply will not work. Because, obviously, she didn't. Backstory...because this does get kind of interesting...

It was while installing a new copy of Windows 10 onto another computer (not recently red and teal-screened ASAP, which I'm actually typing this up on) that Cortana became completely dysfunctional. I was putting the finishing touches on, updating a few drivers from within Device Manager when, after a restart to finish installing some of them, the wifi adapter deleted itself (and a conflict between an Intel driver and a touch driver caused me to have to hook up an external mouse. Boy, was this fun.) So that's how I came to have no internet connection.

With all the driver conflicts and a self-deleting wifi adapter, I needed to do something. So I got on ASAP, downloaded the missing adapter driver onto a flash drive and reinstalled it. It deleted itself again - without ever working for a minute - on the next restart.

Feeling out of options, I started typing "rstrui" (for System Restore) into Cortana, and that's when I discovered she no longer worked (but she'd been working fine before the adapter deleted itself). So that was just putting two and two together and as frustrated as I was with all the issues this computer was having, that was as much as I thought about it before posting.

Before I did, I got into System Restore via an alternative method, rolled the system back to a time I knew the adapter was working (luckily I'd set a custom restore point because drivers are notoriously tricky), disabled the Intel driver that conflicted with the touch driver, which I uninstalled, and with a few more restarts these problems were solved.

After sleeping on it, I decided I'd try replicating Cortana's dysfunction on that computer on ASAP, my laptop. Only to find I couldn't. Disabling the wifi adapter manually, Cortana still worked. After a restart with the adapter still disabled, Cortana still worked. So, keeping the adapter disabled, I deleted it from within Device Manager, thinking I could use a previous restore point to bring it back after my test was done. Well, no need for that. Upon a restart, the adapter - without any Internet connection that I'm aware of, since after all I'd disabled it before the restart - reinstalled itself. I replicated this result twice, the second time after fully shutting the laptop down and letting it cool a bit before restarting. The wifi adapter simply reinstalled itself once again (and turned itself back on, changing the "disabled" setting I'd chosen for it without any input from me).

At this point I don't know what to think, but I'm suspecting versioning differences might explain the results. That is, Windows versioning. The build I installed on the other computer was a normal, non-Insider copy of activated Win 10 Pro and whatever "version" of Cortana that comes with that. The build ASAP is running is an Insider Preview, build 14328. The non-Insider and Insider versions of these operating systems have two different versions of Cortana with different menus, settings, and interface functionality, and I'm thinking with the version that appears on a non-Insider, regular copy of Windows 10, a deleted and unrecoverable wifi adapter might indeed disable Cortana because that version is not designed to recover from such an error, ie, to reinstall the adapter even after you've removed it.

I'm also curious to know how the adapter gets reinstalled between restarts on the Insider build - if Windows is indeed incapable of connecting to the internet because I disabled the adapter before restart or shutdown, then it must be rescuing the driver files itself and just re-installing them before the next restart. Which, I mean, did I give it permission to do that? No. Maybe I never want a wifi adapter again. How does MS get to decide this for me?

I'm completely wigged out by my inability to delete the wifi adapter on my Insider build, and curious if the stable release of Windows 10 normally allows the adapter to be deleted without trying to reinstall it between restarts or not. Last night the answer to that question was definitely "or not" but that was under such a weird set of circumstances - an adapter that deleted itself twice at the same time other driver conflicts were occurring - that upon reflection I don't want to try to form a solid conclusion from that alone.

Maybe I'll bring entry tags back just to mark things like this "needs further testing" - this is something I definitely want to dive into again soon. Next I'll want to try physically pulling out the wifi card with the Insider build and see what happens. It can reinstall the wifi driver all it wants, but the wifi still will not - cannot - work, so does Cortana stop working then?

ETA2, 5-21: while it was an exciting thought, I'll have to call this a one-off for now. I cannot, no matter what I do, including disabling wifi adapters and cards and physically removing them from whatever computer I'm on, replicate what happened the night I wrote this. Just ain't happening. At this point I'd be willing to guess multiple driver conflicts might have caused Cortana to basically short circuit herself, though even that seems highly unlikely. I'm just lost.

marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

Because I'm looking to pursue a class action against First Advantage for holding up and submitting someone else's criminal record as my own on a background check, which got me disqualified from employment at a job I was hired for and who are now holding up my dispute about it, I'm looking for anyone else who's pursued a class action against them to see what I can learn.

So far I've only found two people who sued First Advantage (other people, though, have sued various Potential Employers simply for using First Advantage, which winds up involving a lot more cases).

The two people mentioned already settled; they got just $500 each; all other class action members inexplicably dropped out, First Advantage got reimbursed for their legal expenses (edit: nope; I read one part of this settlement wrong), and the lawyers for the plaintiff walked out with most of the money, to the tune of $100k. And there were more lawyers on both sides of that case than there are flies on a horse's ass. I am not exactly thrilled.

Besides which, I found a profile on Business Insider of a woman who went through much the same thing - for her it was a case of mistaken identity, mixing her name up with someone else's. Several other people's horror stories are told there, as well. While I'm not a big BI fan and this piece was written during a time (2011) I would've thumb-downed almost anything on BI merely over it being on BI (thanks, Nicholas Carlson; come again) this was unusually informative. For BI. To quote:

Two decades ago, if a county wanted to update someone's criminal record, a clerk had to put a piece of paper in a file. And if you wanted to read about someone's criminal past, you had to walk into a courthouse and thumb through it. Today, half the courts in the United States put criminal records on their public websites.

Digitization was supposed to make criminal records easier to access and easier to update. To protect privacy, laws were passed requiring courts to redact some information, such as birth dates and Social Security numbers, before they put records online. But digitization perpetuates errors.

"There's very little human judgment," says Sharon Dietrich, an attorney with Community Legal Services in Philadelphia, a law firm focused on poorer clients. Dietrich represents victims of inaccurate background checks. "They don't seem to have much incentive to get it right."

Dietrich says her firm fields about twice as many complaints about inaccurate background checks as it did five years ago.

I've called maybe five lawyers so far. I'll have one consultation soon and another entire firm is supposed to call me back. But hasn't. Another lawyer was like, 'Eh, not enough money in this' - I had supposed because she has no imagination, but perhaps because there really is no money in it! - and another who turned out to be a criminal lawyer, not a business lawyer. It's just *sigh*...

The job's going to be held until my dispute's resolved, according to Potential Employer's last word on this after I told them I opened a dispute, and a staff member at the Clerk of Court in the county the crime occurred in lectured a rep from First Advantage on a conference call with them and I yesterday, saying they need to check records by actually reading them before submitting them as someone else's.

She pointed out the case summary very clearly says I'm the victim and that if someone had taken a few extra seconds to read it all this time and trouble could've been saved. But First Advantage still wants "proof" that the bad record does not belong to me. Talking directly to Clerk of Court staff was not enough? So the clerk in question has to scan and fax them things now? I'm just beyond any 'I can't even'.

marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)
  • printscreens show no signs of graphics issues!
  • the external monitor I hooked it up to last night displays everything perfectly!

According to Thing I Have Read, these two facts are positive signs my graphics chipset might not be shot.

From Thing I have Read, with emphasis added for my results:

If your artifacts are covering the entire screen and involve color shifts or slight position shifts, then the problem may be caused by your monitor. If you have another monitor available then you should try it out to see if that's the problem [author's note: external monitor hooked to this laptop displayed perfectly]. If you don't have another monitor then you can take screenshots of the screen [author's note: I did this, as well]. [...] If the screenshot looks fine on another computer but the screen looked bad on your monitor [author's note: this was exactly my result] then the problem could either be a problem with your monitor or with the video output circuitry of your video card.

Because I have No Idea, there's a video cable on its way hopefully within another day or two. It's the one that wraps under the left hinge. If it turns out not to fix anything it only cost a few dollars so no big deal. Does anyone think replacing it will fix the issue? The cable it's got looks fine/is tight but because it gets so much pressure put on it from the laptop being opened and closed via the hinge right above it I think replacing it might be worth a try? I don't normally pull laptops apart for video issues (towers, yes; laptops: no) so I'm new to this.

A few other things a local computer repair person suggested the problem might be, but I'm not paying his prices: 1) the inverter, 2) the screen itself (which I tend to doubt because my webpage here and some others still display more or less correctly) and...he might have suggested some other things, but they are not in my head right now.

Things I've tried:

  • Updating graphics driver, rolling back driver, uninstalling/reinstalling driver - this is apparently not driver-dependent
  • BIOS has been flashed to latest firmware/most recent release about a year ago (maybe longer, there is a blog post on here about it somewhere, but there is no more current BIOS version than the one ASAP is using)
  • Tightening all the cables/all other things (discovered laptop screen bezel has a crack to the right of the center, near webcam; webcam chip was detached internally - probably by previous laptop owner - and is currently sitting in my kitchen)
  • Reseated/tested RAM with Windows Memory Diagnostics but it's working fine

Anyone have previous experience with or suggestions to offer? It's an older HP Probook with a 14" matte LCD screen, running the latest (as of last week) Win Insider Pro build. The graphics chipset is soldered to the motherboard, so fixing it's pretty near impossible, but I'm thinking it might not be broken! So what exactly is? What do I look for/tighten/adjust/replace (and don't let thinking I've already tried whatever you're thinking of stop you: I'm more than happy to try said thing again!). Any advice is appreciated.