Sunday, July 8, 2018

Weekend Roundup

I've been hampered by another, quite maddening, computer problem this week. It helps to understand that every program has its own private piece of screen buffer memory, updating the entire image whenever it wishes to change what you see. Whether you actually see the changes depends on the layering of the windows. You usually see all of the current (active focus) window, but other windows may be partially or wholly covered by the top window, or by other windows in an overlay stack. This means that every possible view of every window is stored in memory somewhere -- either the main computer memory, or dedicated screen memory on a video controller card. The computer (or the video card) keep a display list of everything that is to be shown. What's happening on my computer is that this display list is getting corrupted, so all of a sudden I'll see some screen chunk appear when it shouldn't.

The result is very disorienting. For instance, while I've been writing this in an emacs editor window, the screen to my window's left has decided to show a big chunk of a Pitchfork review that I closed from my browser a couple of days ago. I can make it go away by moving the mouse over it and using the wheel to scroll whatever the proper window there has in it (a Wikipedia page). I'm able to work around the problem by using little tricks like that to force proper screen updates, but it's a trial, a real nuisance. This started happening a week ago when I was experiencing heavy load problems. I cut down on the loads by installing an ad blocker and rebooting. That did indeed help on performance, but within a day I started experiencing this phantom screen ghosting (not a technical term, but that's what the screen fragments feel like; just happened again).

I'm guessing that the problem is in the video card, and hoping it will go away when I replace the card (new one on order). Before I installed the ad blocker, I ran into another serious problem: I kept hearing random pops from Napster (although not from Bandcamp, which also plays through the browser, or from VLC, which is a separate ap). No such problem with the ad blocker installed, so that problem was clearly due to the added overhead of processing all those annoying ads. Good riddance to the visual distraction, as well.

I've been working on a side project this past week. I started this last year, spent a couple of days on it, and let it sit, moving on to other, seemingly more urgent, tasks. The idea is to collect all of the political notes from my online notebook. This starts back in 2001, before I started my blog, and continues to archive all of my blog posts from 2005 on. Originally I was thinking of one file for the whole roll, but as I got into 2006, I realized I need to split it into multiple volumes: one for the Bush years, a second for Obama, and probably one for Trump as long as is necessary. Prime determinant was length, but it also makes more sense subject-wise.

Of course, the writing will need a lot of editing to turn it into anything useful. And it's not clear even how it should be organized: day-by-day, or sorted out into subject areas. Good news is that compared to the jazz guides, this one is going pretty fast. Unless the computer situation deteriorates further, I should finish the first pass compilation up to 2008 this coming week. Currently have 465,000 words, up to Feb. 2007 (930 pages of 12 pt. type).

I'd like to say a few things about the material I've been reviewing, but don't have much time and the circumstances aren't conducive. Suffice it to say that the one clearest lesson is that nearly everything we've found so galling and appalling about Trump had previously appeared as a big problem under GW Bush. For instance, I have a lot of material in 2006-07 on North Korea. I have a report on a mass demonstration against ICE excesses. I even have a disgusting story about the president and the Boy Scouts. It's not that nothing never changes, but it is very much the case that Trump's agenda is a direct continuation of the shit Bush tried to pull until he flamed out in 2008, leaving the economy in shambles.

Some scattered links this week: