Monthly Archive: November 2020

The bulging Dell XPS 13 keyboard and the solution

In 2018, tired of the lack of horsepower of my existing publishing company laptop, in use with White Cat Publishing, I went out and found a Dell XPS13 laptop on Ebay. I selected it because it was fairly powerful, and it could be used for video processing if we took it on vacation, and the keyboard had good reviews.

And when I first started using it, it ticked all of those boxes.

Fast forward to the beginning of this year, when I began to notice that the keyboard was bulging upwards on the left hand side. Most of the left hand side had a noticeable bulge in the D, C, E key area, extending down to the space bar. I had no idea why this was happening, but the laptop did seem to be hot on that side, so I concluded that it was due to internal overheating. I began to power the laptop when I was not actively using it.

The bulge in the keyboard slowly became worse, and started to affect the operation of the keyboard. The space key began malfunctioning, if I tried to use the left hand side of it, nothing happened. More annoyingly, shutting the laptop would engage CTRL Lock on the keyboard, and I could not get out of it using Windows 10 (this is an issue with Windows 10, but the coincidence of the issues was making me…not a happy bunny). The touch pad was also starting to become glitchy.

Now…I can think faster than I type. My typing speed is what limits my ability to rapidly get stuff down, so anything that slows down typing for me, is beyond annoying. Sadly, my better half can attest to the gradual disappearance of my patience with the laptop keyboard.

Also…the laptop would shut down without warning, thinking that the battery was low (no it was not, at least according to the on-screen power management information).

I had resigned myself to the reality that I was going to need to invest in a new laptop. Mary, probably fed up with my cursing swearing and chucking of objects, was researching new laptops online and through Costco.

My sanity was degrading. Something had to be done.

So…I began to look online using “Dell XPS 13 warped keyboard”.

And…paydirt.

The random shutting down of the laptop and the keyboard warp were caused by the same underlying issue.

The modern laptop, with no disk drive, and a lot of pressure to reduce the thickness to not much more than that of a tablet, is designed with an ultra-thin Lithium battery pack, which occupies the entire space between the keyboard and the back panel. There is no space to speak of inside a modern laptop case.

The back panel is made of thin metal. The keyboard base is made of very thin plastic.

The battery pack was failed, and when Lithium packs fail, they overheat and expand. With nowhere to go against the case bottom, the battery was pushing up the keyboard, progressively warping it and degrading its functionality.

So…a search for a battery pack showed lots of them available. I ordered one from Amazon. My thinking was, if the keyboard was thin, it would resume its normal shape after a new battery pack was fitted. With a new battery pack costing $65, this was worth a try. If the keyboard refused to un-warp, a new keyboard could be installed. Beyond that, it would make more sense to spring for a new laptop.

The installation of the new battery pack was fairly easy. Just a case of removing 8 screws from the metal base, pulling the base off the laptop. There are videos like this one on YoutTube that walk through the rest of the process.

So, after pulling the old battery pack, this is what it looks like.

The top side (next to the keyboard):

The pack should be totally flat where the cells are located. As you can see, that’s…not even remotely close to flat. Bulging like a way overweight bar-room boozer.

The bottom side (next to the case):

This side is even worse, but there is some clearance inside the case, so it assumed the contour of the case bottom. I suspect that the pack expanded into that space, then as the expansion became worse, it pushed the keyboard up.

So…new pack installed, and now…a flat keyboard with all the keys working properly.

For somebody who needs a good fast keyboard this is….Nirvana.

 

 

 

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My Social Media principles (UPDATED)

I wrote this in 2015, but most of it is still applicable.

1. I am not online to make money. I have no advertising revenue income from any of my blogs or other social media locations. I am not writing to gain, keep or impress an audience. Essentially I am writing for my own fun, and to improve my writing for other reasons (I am writing books that I hope to self-publish). If other people like my writing, this is good. If other people hate it, this is also good. The last thing I would like to be is non-memorable. I can achieve that latter goal by not writing at all.
2. My approach to identity is to post as myself. As far as revealing information about myself other than my given first and last names, I adhere to what a former work colleague defined to me as The Concept Of Minimum Effective Fact. I reveal only the minimum amount of information about myself. For example, I never reveal my home address to others in casual conversation. Why would they need to know that piece of information?
3. I seek out different views, and I am interested if those views are articulately and usefully expressed.
4. Not everybody is going to like me or my views after reading what I have to say. I call this the law of averages. One cannot be liked by everybody. I accept that.
5. I use humor and irony a LOT. Humor and comedy, apart from making people laugh (which is a hell of a lot better than almost anything else, except possibly sex), also allow for the subversive exposure and ridicule of all of the weird, illogical and stupid things that tend to take root in modern societies and inside the heads of people.
6. I extend the Principle of Charity in discourse. I will adopt the most benevolent interpretation of somebody’s statement, not the most negative one, initially. I will revise that approach rapidly if I detect that the other parties to the discussion are not interested in interacting on the basis of good faith.
7. If you want to engage in discourse with me, provide some evidence that you are thinking as you write, and that you can construct arguments. Hitchens’ Razor is my general response to assertions without any supporting evidence.
8. If you write postings or comments that mostly recycle talk radio or partisan media outlet cliches, I am unlikely to respond. See (7)
9. If you want your ideas to be respected, have good ideas. I have a tendency to engage in ridicule if people espouse ridiculous ideas and either cannot support them or try to engage in sleight of hand, fallacious reasoning or other forms of sophistry. Ridicule is a logical response to the promulgation of ridiculous ideas. Please note that in line with extending the Principle of Charity (see above), I will be endeavoring to critique the ideas, not the person.
10. There is no Constitutional right to not be offended. If you find something that I wrote is offensive, you need to ask yourself if it is because I have expressed it offensively, or whether you simply do not like the viewpoint. If it is the former, feel free to call me on it. If it is the latter, let’s debate it, but starting with “I am offended” is likely to result in a response along the lines of “and your point is…?”. You, not me, control how you react to viewpoints and ideas that conflict with your worldview.
11. If your posting is clearly a toxic rant on a subject that you cannot stay away from, I am unlikely to respond. I learned some time ago that engaging this level of toxicity is a waste of everybody’s time. In my experience, the people writing these sorts of rants most of the time are seeking affirmation, not debate or discussion.
12. If your posting or comment contains juvenile sneers like “libtard” or “remoaner” and/or engages in broad-brush negative stereotyping of individuals or societal groups using tired cliches like “liberals”, “atheists”, “republicons” or similar, or contains suggestions like “leave the country if you don’t like X”, or contains statements that prove that you consider groups of individuals as some lower form of life, I am probably going to rip you a new one rhetorically, or Block you. Processing elementary school insults and dealing with exclusionary and mean-spirited worldviews is a waste of my time.
13. I love to understand the world, via information and facts. That leads to me using fact checking extensively. I can and will fact check claims and allegations off the internet, and from time to time I am going to declare some stuff to be bullcrap, nonsense, or poorly formulated or argued.
14. I have a reasonable working knowledge of the modern world political landscape. This does mean that I am likely to call out bizarre or distorted worldviews. For example, there is a tendency right now to call out any political view that is perceived to be more progressive than the mean in the modern USA as “socialism ” or “marxism”. This is likely to cause me to eventually engage in ridicule. See (9) above. The reasons for this are varied and several. One of them is that I grew up under socialism, so I know more than a little about its operation as a political system. The second reason is that most people in the USA, when asked to define the meaning of “socialism”, are unable to do so. When you cannot adequately define a concept, you’re really not at all qualified to discuss how it might apply to the real world.
15. I have a reasonable understanding of the types and usage of various logical fallacies, and I will remark on their usage if I encounter them in postings or arguments. Logical fallacies undermine the validity of arguments. If you don’t know about logical fallacies, here is a list of the most used ones. 
16. YouTube videos do not magically confer credibility and gravitas on ridiculous, dysfunctional or illogically dystopian opinions and worldviews. Anybody with $100 of camera gear, spare time, editing software and a resonant, well-modulated voice can create a YouTube video. Many people on the political and societal fringes of the modern USA such as Qanon adherents, Sovereign Citizens, Birthers, adherents to all kinds of conspiracy theories and religious crackpots, turn out YouTube videos at almost the same rate that I breathe. My analysis and questions will revolve around the content. I try to distinguish between quantity and quality when the time comes to analyze outputs on that channel.
17. Capitalizing whole words or sentences LIKE THIS in your enthusiasm or zeal to make a point is counter-productive. It is shouting, which works about as well in the internet world as it does in the real world. It also makes me wonder if you have a problem with the underlying argument or point, if you feel that shouting is the only effective way to communicate it.
18. If I walk away from a discussion, you have no right to assume that you have “beaten” me, or somehow impressed me into agreeing with you. Just because you have silenced somebody, it does not entitle you to conclude that they now agree with you. Most probably I walked away because I determined that further discussion was a waste of my time, which is my prerogative. However, you could check this by asking. Conversely, I am not into declaring rhetorical “victory” in discussions. That sort of approach belongs in elementary school.

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Dear Mississippi

Dear State of Mississippi,

I hear from my spies that some of you, and some of your leaders, are deeply unhappy about the imminent future of the United States.

I believe that this is because A Guy You Apparently Didn’t Vote For, I think he is named Biden, is going to become the 46th President of the United States, because he beat The Guy You Apparently Voted For in the recent election.

Apparently, this change will be a Bad Thing for the United States, so some of you want out.

Well OK then.

Although the Constitution does not have any defined process for how a State can leave the Union, let’s not worry about that right now. Let’s also overlook that unfortunate little contretemps in the 1860s, where I seem to recall that a whole collection of you (by “you” I mean the Southern States) had a collective hissy-fit over the planned abolition of slavery, and decided to fight a bunch of other states over it. (By the way, You Lost. Those nice stars-and-bars cloth objects that some of you like to wave about from time to time are copies of the battle flag of a defeated secessionist army. In other words, Losers. But I digress).

Let’s assume that you, Mississippi, desirous of No Union At All, want to secede from the rest of the United States.

First of all, I think I need to point out that by most objective measures, Mississippi is heavily dependent on the Federal Government. When I looked at some hand-dandy charts, you are the third most financially and governmentally dependent state in the Union, after New Mexico and Kentucky. So the idea that you are, you know, ready to make your own way in the world, Just Like That, might be a wee bit optimistic. But, hey, all children dream of one day leaving home and having their own place. Right?

So, sure. Let’s talk about secession.

First of all, let’s talk money.

It’s like this. The USA has a national debt, which the last time I looked had passed $23.3 trillion (yes, that is a number that contains a blank of a lot of zeroes). And it is still rising. You, the good citizens of Mississippi, are, along with all of the other states, the collective owners of that debt. So, if you want to leave the Union, we will require you to assume a pro rata share of the debt. I just happen to have a calculator handy, and if we do it on the basis of population, your current share of the debt is…

$208 billion.

I understand that your current state debt is approximately $7.4 billion. I got out the calculator again, and did some more math. That will give Mississippi a debt to GDP ratio, after we do the math, of 182%. Not the worst in the world, mind you, Japan is at 238%. But then the next country is Greece. At 181%. Oh dear. You will be the second worst country in the world. That means your borrowing costs will probably rise. But hey, that’s how free markets work, right?

Of course, if you want us, acting on behalf of Uncle Sam and the US Treasury, to guarantee your debts, we can do so for a fee. This is for a state which <checks notes> is last in the Union at present on per capita GDP, so you folks will need all the help you can get.

There will be no more money from the US treasury. Of course, you won’t have to send us any either. This may be good for you, since I understand that a lot of you are always grumbling about sending money to Washington for “coastal elites”, “spongers” and “liberals” who might even be behaving according to “San Francisco values”. If you want to just have sales taxes and property taxes, and continue with your 5% maximum income tax, have at it. We will watch to see how you can balance the books that way. I think you might find that 5% is a tad low for an income tax, but hey, your call.

Now, let’s talk defense.

You will assume total control over the Mississippi National Guard and its assets. Why not? It is mostly older stuff that was passed down from the US Air Force, Army and Navy anyway. We don’t need the hassle of looking after old KC-135s and obsolete APCs. But you may have to pay more for spares, since you will be buying them as Mississippi, instead of using the Full Faith and Credit Of The United States. Unless, of course you want to kick some cash over to us to continue to enjoy some of that Full Faith and Credit.

Ah, you might want to participate in the overall US national defense, I hear you say? Well, we will have to talk about that. On normal commercial terms. Those F-35s are kind of expensive, and they don’t fly themselves. And Naval patrol boats cost money to run.

All Federal government installations will be closed down, unless you buy them from us at fair market value less 5%. That is more than fair, considering that you probably provide a lot less than 5% of the federal tax revenues each year.

You will be responsible for healthcare provisioning, and for deciding what healthcare systems replace Federally funded systems like Medicaid and Medicare and Tri-Care. We will allow you to participate for 5 years after secession in the systems if we can agree the price. If not, it’s over to you.

Roads, airports, ports? Over to you. If you owned them you get to keep them, but no more Federal money to help with upkeep. If the Federal government owns them, you get to buy them from us at market value less 5%. If you don’t want them, we will close them and sell them off to the highest bidder, no matter where that bidder may be in the world. Except for the Federal Interstates (hold on we’ll get to that in a minute). Hey, it’s simply responsible reclamation of taxpayers money. I hear that your government likes to talk about that a lot down there in the Summer heat.

By the way, you might need to work out some arrangement for hurricane and peril insurance. Those hurricanes are getting worse, and unless we can agree on financial terms, the Federal government cannot continue to guarantee flood and peril insurance for home owners. We note that some of your coastline is, er, very close to or below sea level.

If you want to continue to participate in GPS and the FAA, sure. There will be a fee for that. Controlling satellites and airspace is a tricky job requiring state of the art equipment, and those Air Traffic Controllers have to be kept supplied with coffee.

Now, about Federal Interstates. No, you are not going to make them into toll roads. If you do that, we will impose tolls in the other direction when your vehicles leave Mississippi. I don’t think you would want that. We will provide 5% of the cost of maintenance for Federal highways. More than reasonable. Ditto the Mighty Mississipp. You will not impose tolls on that waterway, unless you want to have to pay reciprocal tolls.

It is up to you whether you want to apply for admission to the United Nations and the WTO. We won’t take a position either way, except to note that if you want to join the United Nations, it will be as a new country without any of the privileges that the United States currently enjoys (like that permanent Membership of the Security Council). Ditto trading blocs. However, we may ask you to kick in a few million to pay for your share of representation on the world stage. Embassies, and United Nations and WTO representation costs money.

If you are serious about the idea of becoming a true country you may need to pay for the cost of setting up a Federation Ambassador office in DC, as will we in Jackson. Standard United Nations diplomatic rules will apply.

Passports? Customs declarations? Border posts? Hell no. We are not going to get into that border shit. I mean, if you really really want a border, you can have one, but then we will require passports for any of your folks to enter the United States, and we will impose work permit and visa controls, just like we do with other countries. Also, you will need to have your own border controls, agreed with the 4 states with which you will share a border. I don’t think you really want to go there. There will be reciprocal visit rights by US citizens to Mississippi and Mississippi citizens to the USA. However, Mississippi citizens will need to apply for permission to move elsewhere in the USA, and if the states want to impose their own quotas and work restrictions, well, State’s Rights and all that. You will need to talk to them about that, unless you want us to act on your behalf, in which case I am sure we can do so. If the price is right.

No, you may not become a tax haven country. We have had enough trouble in the past dealing with oligarchs on big yachts, surrounded by men in dark glasses, carrying cases with strange bulges in their clothing. I know this may come as a shock to those of you who are used to a failed casino operator running the country, but we do have some standards.

Ditto alcohol and tobacco and other mind-altering substances. If you decide to try and become a haven for smugglers or “country entrepreneurs”, the neighboring states will have our forbearance if they want to change the ways that they interact with you, legally, logistically and commercially. It’s that States Rights thingy again. I think you rather like that (at least, you always seem to think it is important whenever the Federal government wants to do something you don’t like).

Yes, you will have to continue to enforce the same environmental laws that the rest of the United States enforces. You may have noticed that there are artifacts on the planet such as weather and water, that tend to move substances across state boundaries. We are not going to allow your factories, power plants and other industries to send shit into the water table or oceans, or into the atmosphere where it can drift over Our Way. In return, we undertake to not do the same to you. Deal? After all, if you start dicking about with things like vehicle emissions laws because you want to have, oh I don’t know, Rolling Coal as a state pastime, that is going to prevent Brandon and Brett from driving to New Orleans to see the Saints, and that seems a little restrictive, don’t you agree?

Which brings us nicely onto sports. You make your own arrangements for teams like Ole Miss. Whatever you want to do is fine with us.

This list is not exhaustive. We’re just getting warmed up.

 

Yours sincerely,

The United States

 

 

 

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